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Russell Harris

Russell Harris QC


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Russell Harris was called to the Bar in 1986 and took silk in 2003. In 1990, he accepted an invitation from Sir Frank Layfield to join his planning and environmental law chambers. Since that time he has specialised in planning and environmental work.

He is now involved in most of the UKs highest profile development schemes. He is advising on the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station and on Bishopsgate Goods Yard, the largest remaining City redevelopment site. He continues to advise on football stadia for Spurs Fulham and Brentford. He is promoting the large scale redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle and has acted on the plans to remodel Shepherd’s Bush and Earls Court, two of London’s largest Opportunity Areas.

In Wales he is promoting the Circuit of Wales and is acting for National Grid on several critically important NSIPs.

Russell is particularly experienced in preparing for and acting at large public inquiries. He is noted for his ability to understand large volumes of technical evidence, to formulate effective cross examination of expert witnesses and to present a client’s case clearly and effectively.

Russell has appeared in almost all of the recent Tall Building inquiries and has developed a special expertise in presenting cases involving world class architects and architecture. Thus, Russell has successfully acted for the developers of "The Shards of Glass" by Renzo Piano, the Heron Tower, by Lee Polisano, The Minerva Tower by Nicolas Grimshaw, 20 Fenchurch Street by Rafael Vinoly, The Beetham Tower Blackfriars by Ian Simpson, Founder's Place by Sir Terry Farrell and Vauxhall Towers site by Michael Squires.

Russell continues to advise Herbert Smith Freehills on Rem Koolhaus’ plans for the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington and on Foster and Partners proposals at Bishop’s Place on the fringes of the City of London. He is promoting for Ashurst, a 42 storey mixed use development for Foster and Partners in Islington and the Chris Wilkinson and Richard Horden proposals on the Embankment.

On the South Bank he is promoting the large David Chipperfield design at Elizabeth House.

In March 2009 Russell was re-appointed as Counsel to the London Plan (Spatial Development Strategy for London) by Mayor Johnson, meaning that he has promoted every single plan, alteration and review since the creation of the London Mayor and Greater London Authority.

He is also continuing to advise on the redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks and Brent Cross.

In the environmental field, Russell is presently piloting several renewable energy projects through the IPC process. He is also, with Robin Purchas QC and Michael Humphries QC, advising National Grid on the general approach to be taken to major national infrastructure projects and the IPC.

Russell is recognised in the leading UK directories as one of the top silks at the planning and environment bar. The Chambers & Partners Directory writes:

"He is engaging, lucid, forthright and supportive. He offers first-rate analysis, is excellent with clients, and is both a brilliant strategist and a first-rate scrapper when on his feet." "He gives commercial advice that is always robust and carefully thought through." [2016]

"Famed for his "flawless client service" is the extremely well-regarded Russell Harris QC. One instructing solicitor described his approach as "really helpful and client-friendly," and went on to say that once in court he is "up and at them, and not willing to take any prisoners." [Chambers & Partners, 2011]

"Valued for his effective style of presentation in court and his ability to predict outcomes, he is excellent on his feet with the ability to offer clear, commercially tailored advice." [2009]

"One of the most approachable barristers in planning Russell Harris QC was recommended as a very effective market leader, who works well as part of a team at court. He has exceptional understanding of retail, highways and transportation issues." [2008]

The Legal 500 recognised his position by ranking him in the top tier of silks:

Russell is "a top-class performer who quickly gets to the nub of any planning issue." [2015, Energy]

A "very highly respected, and a strong performer." [2015, Environment]

"A strong performer". [2015, Planning]

Landmark Chambers is 'the country's top planning set'. Russell Harris QC 'remains the top planning counsel'. [2013]

"The set includes a raft of highly regarded silks including the ‘excellent and experienced advocate’ Russell Harris QC." [2010]

"He rises to the top tier for his work by acclaim which includes the London Plan and the Sir Terry Farrell Guy's Hospital Inquiry, as well as developing a niche in dealing with tall buildings." [2007 & 2008]

Russell was named as Silk of the Year for Environment/Planning at the 2008 Chambers Bar Awards and again short listed as Silk of the Year in 2013.

The latest Planning Magazine law survey ranks Russell in the top three planning silks in the country, and as a leading silk for residential, commercial and infrastructure. He is said to have "carved out 'a second-to-none reputation' when dealing with major controversial schemes in London", and is described as a "phenomenal advocate" who is "good on his feet on the day".