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Matthew Reed

Matthew Reed QC


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Matthew was called to the Bar in 1995 and has specialised in planning, environmental and local government law for the past 21 years. Matthew was ranked as a leading junior in the planning sections of Chambers & Partners, the Legal 500 and Planning Magazine from 2008 until he took silk in 2017. He is now ranked as a silk in the Planning Magazine Law Survey for 2017 and the 2017-18 versions of Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500.

He has been described in Chambers & Partners as:

  • "He has a phenomenal intellect and clients enjoy working with him. Nothing seems to faze him".
  • “His planning knowledge is excellent” with “approachability and commitment”.
  • "He is a strong advocate who relates well to clients." "A brilliant new silk, he's great on the detail and always well prepared."
  • “one of the most hard-working, determined barristers around. He has a very good knowledge of planning law, especially with environmental issues, and is extremely capable in advocacy and cross-examination - you know you have given your client the best shot. A very good choice for the difficult cases”; he is described as “a leading junior, excellent at leading detailed cases at inquiry”.
  • “tenacious, meticulous and thorough in cross-examination".
  • “especially valued for his expertise in cases that combine elements of planning, real estate and environmental law”.
  • “solid and straightforward”.
  • "He will go far as he is very driven".
  • “A top choice for local authorities seeking a well-regarded junior with a range of experience. He has particular expertise in the housing sector”. 
  • “regarded as one of the top planning juniors currently working in the field. He excels in a wide range of cases including appeals at all levels, enforcement matters and the promotion of or objection to development in the residential, retail and industrial sectors. His work for both government bodies and private corporations has earned him an excellent profile”. 

The Legal 500 comments on Matthew:

  • "his knowledge of planning law is second to none”,
  • “a thorough and efficient handling of cases".
  • "a first-choice barrister for anything contentious".
  • “He has excellent knowledge of planning and public law.”

Planning & Local Government

Within the planning field, Matthew acts for private clients and local authorities.  He has wide experience in a number of forums, including:

  • Appeals;
  • Called-in applications;
  • High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court challenges.
  • Development plan examinations; and
  • Enforcement matters including representation in the Magistrate, Crown and High Courts;

He has both promoted and objected to large scale housing and retail schemes, industrial developments and infrastructure projects; projects have included a large number of windfarm and renewable energy schemes as well as stadia and port developments. He has promoted waste transfer facilities through appeals and represented authorities objecting to them.  

He successfully challenged the East of England and South East England Regional Spatial Strategies. He appeared in St Albans District Council v Hunston Properties [2013] EWCA 1610, the landmark decision on the interpretation of NPPF housing policy and the Supreme Court case addressing the giving of reasons in planning decisions, Dover District Council v CPRE [2017] UKSC 79.

He also represents local authorities and defendants in criminal planning cases both in the Magistrates and Crown Courts and has done a large number of cases arising under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 including in the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division.

Local Government and Compulsory Purchase

Other areas of local government work include compulsory purchase and compensation cases in which he has appeared at inquiries and in the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).  He has promoted CPOs on housing, highway and regeneration projects and acted for claimants and objectors to numerous compulsory purchase schemes. Matthew’s compensation practice has dealt with a wide-range of matters, including mining and railway projects. In Parliament, Matthew has represented local authorities objecting to Crossrail and promoting private bills in the Lords. He is a member of the Bar’s parliamentary practitioner association, the Parliamentary Bar Mess.  He is a member of the Compulsory Purchase Association.

In the field of statutory nuisance and licensing, Matthew has represented local authorities and private clients in the Magistrates Court and appeal committees on appeal and criminal prosecutions both in the Magistrates Court and the High Court (including St Albans District Council v Patel [2009] Env LR 22).


In the environmental field, Matthew has particular expertise in contaminated land matters, appearing at the first special site contaminated land case in the country, representing major corporations in contaminated land appeals and remediation notice cases and appearing in the High Court on contaminated land issues. He was the environmental permitting (pollution) section contributor of the Oxford University Press Environmental Law and authored waste chapter of Garner’s Environmental Law.  He has acted on cases concerned with the permitting process in the heavy industry sector (pottery works and oil). He has dealt with major infrastructure projects in the environmental field (oil, mining, housing and rail) and has represented two local authorities in a draft water resources management plan inquiry for the Thames Water area.

In Matthew’s highways law practice, he has represented clients on rights of way and highway (including major road) inquiries and has appeared in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal on traffic regulation and New Roads and Street Works cases.   

He is a member of the Planning and Environment Bar Association and was a contributor to Environmental Law (OUP, 2008) and Garner’s Environmental Law until 2016.


Matthew has acted for clients on a range of rating matters and undertaken High Court case stated appeals.