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Christopher Katkowski

Christopher Katkowski QC



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Chris Katkowski QC specialises in planning work in the main either preparing for and appearing at planning inquiries or acting in judicial reviews of planning decisions, which are currently ever-increasing in number. The majority of his clients are from the private and corporate sectors together with a number of local planning authorities. Prior to taking silk Chris was a member of what is now the “A” Panel of Treasury Counsel as a result of which he has appeared in many court cases and continues to do so. He completed his term of office as Head of Chambers in May 2009.

Chris is consistently recognised in UK legal directories and in Planning magazine’s annual survey of planning lawyers as one of the foremost leaders in planning and environment work in the country.

Chambers UK Bar Guide 2018 ranks Chris as a "Star Individual" in Planning and describes Chris as a leading silk, "... a planning specialist with a remarkable track record of success at inquiry or in judicial review. Clients and peers, who speak warmly and at length of his creativity, sound judgement and concise advice, assert that he remains a leader at the Bar for complex planning cases." Chris' "strengths" are quoted as: "He is the top dog for retail-related planning work. He's got penetrating insight into the legal and commercial positions of the client, is no-nonsense and highly effective." "Top of the field, he's a brilliant QC who is able to explain and simplify complex legal matters. He's also excellent with clients."

The Legal 500 UK Bar Guide 2017 ranks Chris in the top tier of planning silks and says of him that he is: “A calming presence for his own witnesses and a formidable presence for his opponents” and that: “he is wonderfully succinct, wholly commercial and very client-friendly.”

The 2018 Planning Law Survey published by Planning magazine ranks Chris as the top rated planning silk saying of him that he is “by far the most effective advocate”, who “provides a consistently excellent service.” “You will unquestionably get the best advice, considered from all angles” “..what makes him so authoritative is his clarity of advice and his ability to take a very commercial view alongside the legal framework”; he “combines an easy and reassuring manner with a vast command of the law”. Chris has topped the table 10 times – more than any other planning silk has ever done. 

Howard Watson in his book “The Shard” records that:  “Irvine Sellar said …”I’m a genius at picking geniuses: …the best QC in Christopher Katkowski.” During the lengthy inquiry “…the Queen’s Counsel himself …was the pivotal figure in carrying the arguments in favour of the …scheme. The transcripts reveal Katkowski’s point-by-point dismantling of the counter-arguments and several masterstrokes.” “As a tough and critical man with extraordinarily high expectations of others, Sellar rarely hands out compliments, but his view of Christopher Katkowski remains undimmed by time: he describes the QC’s closing …as “poetry”.

Chris was appointed by the DCLG as an advisor to the Local Plans Expert Group which submitted its report to Government in April 2016.

Chris was a keynote speaker on the opening day of the Planning Inspectorate’s Annual Training Event in March 2018 and addressed the entire assembled inspectorate on the very considerable degree of discretion they have in making decisions provided that they act fairly to all parties.

Chris has been appointed to the Expert Panel for the Government’s Independent Review of Planning Appeal Inquiries.

Chris’ eye-catching successes have changed the face of London, having led for the developers at the seminal inquiries for the Heron Tower in the City (in his book “Leading from the Front” Gerald Ronson describes Chris as “a brilliant QC”) and the Shard of Glass at London Bridge Quarter; and for DP World’s London Gateway deep-sea container port combined with Europe’s largest logistics park at Shellhaven. He acted for Westminster City Council & Land Securities in the CPO proceedings for the large-scale regeneration at Victoria and is advising Cap Co on their proposals for the wholesale redevelopment of the Earls Court Opportunity Area.

A good deal of his work involves advising on cases so as to try and ensure that they do not end up the subject of an inquiry or legal challenge, such as Central St Giles in the West End, home now amongst others to Google, and Battersea Power Station.    

Chris is well-known for his retail work counting Tesco as a long-established client and with a portfolio that includes M&S’ largest new-build store, developed by Simons, at Cheshire Oaks, and acting for the developers in major schemes such as Oakgate’s Monks Cross development, York and LXB Retail Properties’ Rushden Lakes, Northamptonshire, and Lateral Properties, Castleford (which includes a new rugby league stadium for Cas Tigers), as well as British Land for various developments at Meadowhall. 

Chris’ caseload is diverse and includes acting for Spurs in relation to their new stadium; EDF for new nuclear power stations (Hinkley Point); leading for Tata & E.ON for an Energy from Waste plant at Lostock; acting for amongst others, Redrow, Weston Homes, and Dandara in a number of residential schemes; Citizen M's new hotel at Trinity Square opposite the Tower of London and Montcalm's new hotel in Finsbury Square; and for Transport for Greater Manchester promoting an extension of the tram network to the Trafford Centre.  

Chris is down to earth and approachable and enjoys team working. He must be the only planning QC to have been awarded a gold disc (by MTV to celebrate the successful planning appeal for a new studio).