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Richard Langham

Richard Langham



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Richard Langham specialises in town and country planning, highways law, environmental law and compulsory purchase and compensation. He regularly appears at public inquiries, in the High Court and the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), acting for local authorities, commercial litigants, amenity groups and individuals.  He is qualified to accept public access instructions.  


Richard’s practice covers all aspects of planning law. He has appeared at numerous public inquiries, including recently appeals concerning major housing developments, gypsy sites (see below), seasonal caravan sites, waste transfer and disposal sites and retail and leisure developments.  Richard is often instructed in s288/289 challenges and judicial reviews of local authority decisions.  He acted for the successful claimant in R (Langley Park School for Girls) v Bromley LBC [2009] EWCA 734 (Civ), a leading case on the need to consider alternative schemes.  His recent High Court work has included challenges relating to the true significance of a CLEUD (Hannan v Newham LBC [2014] EWHC 1424 (Admin)), the application of s66 of the Planning (Listed Buildings etc) Act 1990 to decisions to grant planning permission for development which may affect nearby listed buildings (R (Trustees of the Cecil Family Trust) v South Kesteven District Council [2015] EWHC 1978 (Admin)) and the relationship between paragraphs 115 and 116 of the NPPF (Franks v SSCLG [2015] EWHC 3690 (Admin)).  

Richard has considerable familiarity with enforcement issues, including claims of immunity, the correct drafting of enforcement notices and criminal liability, including confiscation. He has recently appeared before Magistrates and the Crown Court in cases concerning offences under s179 TCPA, unauthorised demolition of unlisted buildings in a conservation area and the felling of protected trees.  He has extensive experience of applications for injunctions and committal orders. 

His recent non-court/inquiry work has included cases involving the interpretation of planning permissions and conditions (including whether conditions are conditions precedent), the planning status of non-gypsy caravan sites, site licensing, deemed planning permission under the CSCDA 1960, whether mobile homes have become buildings, the application of the controls imposed by the Mobile Homes Act 1983, the interpretation of the CIL Regulations and the GPDO, TPO compensation claims, the validity of TPOs and the interpretation, variation and enforcement of planning obligations. 

In several recent cases he has drafted effective objections to planning applications for amenity groups and individuals on a public access basis (concerning proposals for housing, development in conservation areas, gypsy sites, major town centre schemes, night clubs, and free schools). 

Richard has expertise in those aspects of property law which commonly arise in planning cases, especially easements, rights of access, restrictive covenants, conditional contracts for the purchase of land, development agreements and overage clauses. 

Richard is author of Conditions and Planning Obligations (CLT 1996). 

Gypsies and travellers

Richard has a particular expertise and reputation in relation to gypsies and travellers. He has appeared in many of the important cases on gypsy law, starting with R v Lincolnshire CC ex p Atkinson [1997] JPL 65 (the duty to carry out welfare inquiries) and the much publicised Court of Appeal case First Secretary of State, Doe and Yates v Chichester DC [2005] 1 WLR 1248.   He acted for the claimants in the leading cases establishing the present law on planning injunctions against persons unknown (South Cambridgeshire DC v Persons Unknown [2005], South Cambridgeshire DC v Gammell [2006] JPL 873 and Broxbourne BC v Robb [2011] EWCA 1355 (Civ)).  He has appeared at numerous inquiries concerning gypsy sites, including all three inquiries into the notorious site at North Curry, Taunton.  He has obtained many pre-emptive and final injunctions against gypsy caravans (recently for sites in Three Rivers, St Albans, Stafford, Dudley, and Barking and Dagenham). 

Richard regularly advises local authorities and objectors on the interpretation of current national policy and on the robustness of GTAAs (recently in relation to assessments in Horsham, Croydon, North Yorkshire, Essex and West Sussex) and emerging local plan policies.  In the last two years he has drafted effective objections to proposed emergency stopping places in Poole and Chichester and has helped a householder to persuade a local planning authority to seek a pre-emptive injunction to prevent usage of neighbouring land by gypsy caravans.  

Richard frequently speaks at seminars on planning law and gypsies. 

Highways, footpaths and utilities

Richard’s practice covers highways and the rights and obligations of statutory undertakers. He has appeared at many DMMO inquiries, including the inquiry which led to the decision in Ali v SSEFRA [2015] EWHC 893 (Admin). He has recently advised on the difference between dedication at common law and under s31, the interpretation of s31 in light of Godmanchester, the physical extent of dedication, the strength of user evidence, criminal liability for obstruction of unrecorded footpaths, private street works, town and village greens, frontagers’ rights, the diversion of undertakers’ apparatus and compensation for landowners affected by undertakers’ works.  On two recent occasions he drafted objections which caused highway authorities to reject DMMO applications.  He is currently advising on the approach to be taken to claimed footpaths in Greater London, where the definitive map provisions do not apply. 

Richard has considerable experience of the divergent technical standards for the layout of roundabouts and junctions. Earlier this year he appeared for a traffic authority at an inquiry into TROs needed to achieve the permanent pedestrianisation of Loughborough.  

Environmental law

Richard has expertise in those areas of environmental law related to planning, including environmental impact, environmental permitting, the Habitats Directive, flooding, contaminated land, common law and statutory nuisance and the measurement of noise. He acted for Bath and North East Somerset Council in R (Baker) v BANES [2009] JPL 1498, the  case which led to the amendment to the EIA Regulations, and in the two subsequent challenges dealing with the obligation to take enforcement action against unassessed EIA development ([2009] EWHC 3320 (Admin) and [2013] EWHC 946 (Admin)).   He appeared for the successful planning authority in R (Larkfleet) v South Kesteven DC [2015] EWCA 887 (Civ), concerning the scope of the ‘project’ for EIA purposes and the adequacy of the consideration of cumulative effects.  Other recent work has concerned litter abatement orders under s91 of the EPA 1990 (including hearings before Magistrates and the Administrative Court), proposals to redevelop Southend Pier (within an SSSI and a Ramsar site), the liability of a local authority under a development agreement in relation to methane escaping from a former landfill site, the right to make connections to sewers and to discharge into watercourses, dangerous structures notices, the relationship between environmental permitting and planning control and noise and odour nuisance. 

He is the author of the chapters on contaminated land and the water industry in Environmental Law (OUP 2nd ed 2009). 

Compulsory purchase and compensation 

Richard has appeared at many CPO inquiries, both for acquiring authorities and objectors, concerning a broad range of schemes, including recently a proposal to acquire a substantial area for a new secondary school. He is familiar with CPO procedures, having advised recently on the interpretation of CPOs, statutory conveyances, the acquisition of rights, exchange land certificates and the costs consequences of the withdrawal of a CPO. 

Richard is regularly instructed in compensation claims, both for claimants and acquiring authorities, and is very familiar with Upper Tribunal procedure and the intricacies of the compensation code. He appeared for the successful acquiring authority in Potter v Hillingdon LBC [2010] JPL 1330 and in the associated case of Hall v Hillingdon LBC [2015] UKUT 606. Within the last year he has acted for claimants in two references which were satisfactorily settled.  One involved the relationship between the planning assumptions in ss14-16 of the LCA 1961 and the Pointe Gourde principle.  The other involved consideration of the need to design a detailed scheme (taking into account planning and physical circumstances in the distant past) for the purpose of pursuing a s18 appeal.