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Planning law

Gwion advises on all aspects of planning and compulsory purchase law and he appears regularly in inquiries, in hearings and in court in this area. The 2018 edition of Chambers & Partners UK recommends Gwion as a leading junior in planning law ("He makes complicated cases look straightforward despite difficult points." “He possesses real mastery of the detail on very technical issues, and is a confident and effective advocate.”). He is also recommended as a leading junior in planning law in the 2017 edition of Legal 500 (“Very user-friendly and easy to work with.”).

Over the past 3 years, Gwion has developed particular expertise in infrastructure schemes, advising developers, local authorities, regulators and community groups on energy schemes and port-related development across England and Wales. He also has considerable experience of advising the retail (Co-operative Group; Tesco; Toni & Guy), media (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group; Pinewood Studios; Sub-Bubble Studios) and hospitality sectors (Mayfair’s Dorchester Hotel).

Highlights of Gwion’s recent and ongoing planning work are set out here in two sections: (1) planning inquiries, examinations and hearings; and (2) planning litigation in the courts.

(1) Planning inquiries, examinations and hearings

Infrastructure

  • Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station, Anglesey (ongoing) – advising Natural Resources Wales on the applications for development consent and various environmental permits;
  • HS2 (Select Committee hearings) (2016) – acted for a coalition of 12 local authorities, led by Chiltern District Council, who were concerned about the noise impact of the project; also acted separately for Coventry City Council and the HS2 Action Alliance;
  • Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay (2015) – acted for Natural Resources Wales throughout the 3-week examination of this application for development consent for the world’s first man-made, energy-generating tidal lagoon;
  • Hinkley Point C, Somerset (2013) – acted for the Marine Management Organisation in the public examination of proposals for a nuclear power station and associated development, with emphasis on marine licensing matters;
  • Able Marine Energy Park, Humber (2012) – acted for Anglian Water in the examination of an application for development consent for a quay on the south bank of the River Humber.

Aviation

  • Heathrow Airport (ongoing) – appointed as specialist counsel to DCLG and the Planning Inspectorate ahead of the examination of plans to build a new runway;
  • Rochester Airport (ongoing) – advising Medway Council on redevelopment plans (including EIA issues).

Renewable energy

  • Crouchland Farm, Plaistow (2017) – successfully defended enforcement notices issued by Chichester District Council in respect of a commercial anaerobic digestion facility;
  • Hill Farm, Ludchurch (2014) – successfully obtained planning permission for a 72m-high wind turbine in rural Pembrokeshire after a 3-day inquiry;
  • Turncole Wind Farm, Essex (2014) – acted for Maldon District Council, defending its decision to refuse planning permission for 7 more wind turbines on the Dengie Marshes;
  • Fewcott wind turbines, Oxfordshire (2012) – acted for Cherwell District Council, defending its decision to refuse planning permission for 3 turbines and advising on safety negotiations with Oxford Airport.

Housing

  • 10-24 Auriol Road, London (2017) – successfully obtained planning permission on appeal to demolish a residential block and replace it with a 5-storey building comprising 24 high-end residential units;
  • Benner Lane, West End, Surrey (2016) – successfully obtained planning permission on appeal for 95 houses in a rural location;
  • Lodge Hill, Medway (ongoing) – advising the Defence Infrastructure Organisation on proposals to develop some 5,000 homes (with Sasha White QC);
  • Tower House, High Street, Lewisham (2016) – successfully obtained prior approval, on appeal, to convert office space to 36 residential units;
  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Southwark v Bromley LBC[2016] P.A.D. 31 – whether the redevelopment of a former school site for housing would amount to inappropriate development in the Green Belt; complex interplay of planning and education policies (acted for Bromley LBC);
  • Hambrook, West Sussex (2016) – successfully defended the decision of Chichester District Council to refuse planning permission for 120 houses given conflict with an emerging neighbourhood plan;
  • Loxwood, West Sussex (2016) – successfully defended the decision of Chichester District Council to refuse planning permission for 25 houses given conflict with a made neighbourhood plan.

Tall buildings

  • Conquest House, Bromley (2017) – successfully defended the decision of Bromley Council to refuse planning permission for a 13-storey mixed use scheme in the centre of Bromley on design grounds;
  • ‘Zig-zag building’, Lower Sydenham (2016) – successfully defended the decision of Bromley Council to refuse planning permission for a tall building comprising 253 residential units designed by international architect, Ian Ritchie.

Retirement villages

  • Gondar Gardens, West Hampstead (ongoing)– advising LifeCare Residences on its plans to redevelop the site of a former reservoir in north London as a luxury retirement village.

Agriculture

  • Trewern Farm, Crymych (ongoing) – acting for one of Wales’ largest dairy farms in certificate and enforcement appeals relating to various farm buildings; complex EIA issues.

Waste

  • The Marshes, Yarnton, Oxfordshire (2015) – acted for Oxfordshire County Council, resisting an appeal against its refusal to grant planning permission for a waste recycling plant in the Green Belt;
  • Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire (2014) – acted for Oxfordshire County Council, resisting an appeal against its refusal to grant a new planning permission for existing waste infrastructure with different conditions.

Plan-making

  • Isle of Man Strategic Plan 2016 – acted for the Isle of Man Government’s Department of Infrastructure in a public examination of a plan to allow over 5,000 new homes to be built on the island in the period 2011-2026;
  • Farnham Neighbourhood Plan 2013-2031: advised a consortium of developers on a legal challenge to the plan.

Other

  • Acted for the Royal Mail in its appeal to the Valuation Office Agency against the community infrastructure levy (“CIL”) liability notice issued in respect of the Mount Pleasant redevelopment;
  • Advising several local authorities, residents’ associations and private developers in Greater London in relation to basement developments. 

(2) Planning litigation in the courts

Gwion regularly appears in court in planning-related matters.He has particular experience of challenges that relate to paragraph 14 of the National Planning Policy Framework, having been sole Counsel for the UK Government in many of the recent cases on that issue. Recent/ongoing highlights include:

National Planning Policy Framework for England

  • East Staffordshire BC v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017] EWCA Civ 893 – acted for the Secretary of State (“SSCLG”) in this leading authority on the correct approach to the presumption in favour of sustainable development in paragraph 14, NPPF;
  • Forest of Dean DC v SSCLG [2016] EWHC 421 (Admin) – leading authority on the interplay between paragraphs 14 and 134 of the NPPF;
  • Oadby and Wigston BC v SSCLG [2016] EWCA Civ 1040 – successfully defended the decision of an inspector whose approach to the calculation of housing land supply was challenged.

Energy

  • R (Friends of the Earth) v North Yorkshire County Council [2016] EWHC 3303 (Admin) – successfully defended the County Council’s decision to grant planning permission for hydraulic fracking, the first challenge of its kind in the UK (with Sasha White QC).

Retail

  • R (Midcounties Co-operative Ltd) v Forest of Dean District Council [2015] EWHC 1251 (Admin); [2014] EWHC 3059 (Admin); [2013] EWHC 1908 (Admin) – successfully argued for the claimant that the same grant of planning permission for a rival store should be quashed 3 times, unprecedented in the High Court, for failing to deal properly with the impact on town centre harm (with David Holgate QC and James Maurici QC);
  • R (Tesco Stores Ltd) v Forest of Dean District Council [2015] EWCA Civ 800 – whether the decision to grant planning permission for a rival store complied with the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 (with Patrick Clarkson QC).

Basement development

  • Eatherley v Camden LBC [2016] EWHC 3108 – successfully acted for the claimant, challenging a certificate of lawful development granted for a basement extension in London.

Plan-making

  • William Davis Ltd and others v Charnwood BC (ongoing) – acting for a consortium of housing developers challenging the lawfulness of adopting, as a supplementary planning document, a document establishing a presumption in favour of a particular housing mix.

Interpretation of planning permissions

  • University of Leicester v SSCLG [2016] EWHC 476 (Admin) – whether an inspector had erred in his approach to extrinsic evidence when interpreting a planning permission for student accommodation;
  • Wood v SSCLG [2015] EWHC 2368 (Admin) – leading recent case on the interpretation of planning permissions.

Planning enforcement

  • Kestrel Hydro v SSCLG [2016] EWCA Civ 784 – successfully acted for the SSCLG in this leading authority reaffirming the Murfitt principle in planning enforcement law.

Other

  • World Society for the Protection of Animals v Welsh Ministers [2014] EWHC 1896 (Admin) – successfully resisted a challenge to the grant of planning permission for a “super dairy” in mid-Wales;
  • Lawson Builders Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2015] EWCA Civ 122 – leading authority on the interplay between s. 73 and s. 73A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.