Alistair Mills

Call: 2011
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Practice Summary

Alistair’s areas of practice are planning and environmental law, and public law.  In 2017 he was appointed to the Attorney General’s Civil Panel of Counsel: C Panel.

Planning and Environment

Alistair represents clients in planning matters, both in court and before inspectors.  He provides a broad range of advice.  He is instructed by private developers, objectors, central and local government.

Alistair has appeared un-led in the Court of Appeal, for the successful developer in Jones v Mordue [2016] 1 WLR 2682.  The Secretary of State having dropped out, Alistair’s client appealed to the Court of Appeal against the quashing of planning permission granted for a wind turbine.  The case raises important issues regarding s.66(1) of the Listed Buildings Act 1990, and the Barnwell Manor judgment.

Alistair has substantial experience of High Court planning challenges:

  • R (West Berks DC and Reading BC) v SSCLG [2015] EWHC 2222 (Admin), a highly significant decision in which Holgate J found national planning policy in relation to affordable housing contributions to be unlawful, led by David Forsdick QC. The claim was successful on four grounds. The Secretary of State appeal has been heard by the Court of Appeal (Lord Dyson MR, Laws and Treacy LJJ); judgment is awaited.
  • Redhill Aerodrome Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment [2015] PTSR 274, a major decision concerning the interpretation of one of the paragraphs of the NPPF. Alistair was led by Christopher Katkowski QC in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
  • R (Smech Properties Ltd) v Runnymede Borough Council [2016] EWCA Civ 42), another planning challenge in the context of the Green Belt. Alistair was led in the Court of Appeal by James Maurici QCand in the High Court ([2015] EWHC 823 (Admin)) led by Christopher Katkowski QC.
  • R (Dunnett Investments Ltd) v SSCLG [2017] EWCA Civ 192, concerning the interpretation of conditions and exclusion of the GPDO by condition, led by Christopher Katkowski QC.

Alistair has experience of the NSIP regime, having been instructed by a local authority objecting to the Navitus Bay offshore windfarm proposal. He appeared at an issue-specific hearing (led by Reuben Taylor QC).  The Secretary of State rejected the application for a DCO.

Alistair has experience of appeals to the Secretary of State:

  • Instructed by the local planning authority in a three-day inquiry in relation to proposed residential development in proximity to a pig farm, raising issues of potential odour.
  • Instructed by the local planning authority at very short notice in a two-day inquiry in relation to proposed residential development, which raised transport and planning matters.
  • Instructed by the local planning authority in a call-in application concerning a major redevelopment at the heart of Central Milton Keynes, which raised issues concerning heritage harm and neighbourhood planning (led by David Elvin QC).
  • A hearing seeking demolition of a dilapidated listed glasshouse, raising heritage issues.
  • Appealing a refusal of planning permission by a local authority for an agricultural worker’s dwelling.
  • Representing an appellant at an enforcement hearing concerning change of use to residential use.

Alistair has also represented a local authority in relation to an inquiry concerning the conversion of a footpath to a cycle track under the Cycle Tracks Act 1984.

Alistair is the editor of a Digest of Decisions on the NPPF.

He is also an Assistant Editor of the Planning Encyclopedia.

Public

In the field of public law, Alistair has a broad range of experience:

  • He appeared for one of the successful challengers to decisions refusing exceptional case funding under s.10 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012: R (Gudanaviciene and others) v Director of Legal Aid Casework [2014] EWHC 1840 (Admin), led by Tim Buley, and in the Court of Appeal (led by Richard Drabble QC and Tim Buley), [2015] 1 WLR 2247.
  • Alistair appeared in IG v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] UKUT 176 (AAC), a case concerning the competent state for the payment of benefits and EU Regulation 883/2004.
  • He has appeared successfully in the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) led by Zoe Leventhal in ST, GF v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (ESA) [2014] UKUT 547 (AAC).
  • Zoe also led Alistair in a successful intervention on behalf of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust in C v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2015] EWHC 1607 (Admin), a high-profile challenge concerning delays in the assessment of claimants’ entitlement to Personal Independence Payment.
  • Alistair appeared for the local authority in Ogunseye v LB Newham [2015] RVR 58, an assessment of disturbance payment due under the Land Compensation Act 1973, s. 38(1)(a).
  • Appearing unled for the appellant HR in the Iranian country guidance case SSH and HR v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2016] UKUT 308 IAC.

He has appeared in the First Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) and the Upper Tribunal, and has experience of a wide range of immigration matters. He is frequently instructed by the Home Office in resisting oral permission hearings in immigration judicial reviews in the Upper Tribunal.

Alistair is an External College Lecturer in Law at Magdalene College, Cambridge, and has taught Administrative Law since 2010.

Alistair is the Assistant Editor of the journal Judicial Review.

He was awarded Oxford University’s prestigious Eldon Law Scholarship in 2011.

Qualifications

Academic

Alistair graduated from Magdalene College, Cambridge, with a Double First in 2009.  He obtained a distinction on the Bachelor of Civil Law at Oxford in 2010.  He was awarded Outstanding on the Bar Professional Training Course from Northumbria University in 2011.

Scholarships and Awards

  • Eldon Scholar, Oxford University 2011 (previously awarded to, amongst others, Lords Denning, Wilberforce and Bingham
  • Trinity Chambers Prize for Best Overall Performance (on BPTC, jointly awarded with another)
  • Bedingfield Scholarship, Gray’s Inn 2010
  • ECS Wade Prize for Administrative Law, Cambridge 2008

Other Experience

Alistair provides small-group teaching in administrative law and is an external College Lecturer in Law at Magdalene College, Cambridge.  He has published widely, including in the Cambridge Law Journal, Judicial Review, the Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly, and the Journal of Professional Negligence.

Inquiries

Proposed restrictions on Southern Water’s abstraction licences at the Rivers Test and Itchen

13/03/2018

This was a public inquiry into the Environment Agency’s proposed changes to three sets of surface water and groundwater abstraction licences at the River Test, River Itchen and Candover Stream in Hampshire. The Test and Itchen licences were held by Southern Water for the purpose of public water supply. The Candover licence was held by the Agency but Southern Water wished to use it for augmenting water in the Itchen in times of drought. 

The Agency’s proposals were made on the ground that more restrictive conditions are necessary in order to achieve compliance with the Habitats Directive and Water Framework Directive.

Shortly before the pre-inquiry meeting in November 2017, Southern Water announced that it no longer contested the proposals for the Test and Itchen subject to the imposition of special conditions allowing increased abstraction during drought conditions on ground of imperative reasons of overriding public interest pursuant to Article 6(4) of the Habitats Directive. The Environment Agency’s position was that the appropriate means of dealing with drought conditions is through the drought order and drought permit regime under Part II, Chapter III of the Water Resources Act 1991. 

The inquiry was due to last 3 weeks but at the opening the parties announced that agreement in principle had been reached between Southern Water and the Environment Agency pursuant to which Southern Water would withdraw its remaining objections and a water resource management scheme would be entered into by the parties pursuant to s.20 of the 1991 Act which would set out the process by which Southern Water will be able to ensure that it is ‘application ready’ to make an application for a drought permit order and by which such an application will be made and considered. The inquiry proceeded to hear representations from Fish Legal and other third parties on the proposed arrangements.

Charles Banner and Alistair Mills​ appeared for the Environment Agency.​

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Inquiries

Land North of Field Head Lane, Laceby, North East Lincolnshire

01/03/2018

Alistair Mills represented the local planning authority in this three-day planning inquiry in relation to a proposal for residential development. The planning authority had refused planning permission, and the reason for refusal being defended at inquiry was that the proposed residential development included dwellings within 400m of an Intensive Livestock Unit, and was therefore contrary to local plan policy. The inquiry raised matters of odour and planning evidence. The appeal was dismissed.

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Inquiries

Planning Permission Granted by Secretary of State at intu Milton Keynes

21/07/2017

The Secretary of State has granted planning permission for a major redevelopment of intu Milton Keynes, having called in the matter for his own determination.  The appeal was significant, as it considered the first Business Neighbourhood Plan to be made in England.

The Secretary of State, following his Inspector’s recommendation, concluded that the Neighbourhood Plan should not necessarily be interpreted according to the views of those involved in the drafting of it.  Neither should there be flexibility or leniency of interpretation on the basis that policies have been drafted by non-professionals.  The proposed development was in accordance with the statutory Development Plan as a whole, including the Neighbourhood Plan.

The proposal would give rise to considerable public benefits.  There would be harm to the setting of the listed Shopping Centre, but this would be less than substantial harm, and within the lower end of that classification.  The public benefits of the scheme were found to outweigh such harm.  No material considerations indicated that application should be refused contrary to the Development Plan.

Christopher Katkowski QC and Richard Moules appeared for intu.

David Elvin QC and Alistair Mills appeared for Milton Keynes Council.

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Inquiries

Inquiry opens into proposed development at Springbok Estate, Alfold Crossways

20/07/2017

An inquiry has opened into Thakeham Homes’s appeal against the refusal of planning permission by Waverley Borough Council for a residential-led scheme at the Springbok Estate, Alfold Crossways, Surrey.  The application proposes 400 new dwellings, independent living care facility, a primary school, and associated development.

David Elvin QC and Alistair Mills are instructed by Thakeham Homes.

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Inquiries

Call-in inquiry into redevelopment of intu Milton Keynes

10/04/2017

This 9-day inquiry raised issues of heritage harm and neighbourhood planning, as well as a stopping-up order.  Alistair, led by David Elvin QC, represented the Local Planning Authority which supported the proposals.

:

Inquiries

Land off Denman Lane, Huncote, Blaby, Leicestershire

13/04/2016

Alistair Mills represented the local planning authority in this two-day planning inquiry in relation to a proposal for residential development. The inquiry raised transport and planning matters. Alistair was instructed around 24 hours before the start of the inquiry, and cross-examined the Appellant’s two witnesses.

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Inquiries

The Cheshire East Council (Crewe Footpath Nos. 3 (Part) and 11 (also known as Footpath No. 36)) Cycle Tracks Order 2014

01/03/2016

Alistair Mills represented the local authority in promoting the above order under the Cycle Tracks Act 1984, in relation to changing a route from a footpath to a cycle track.

:

Inquiries

Proposed restrictions on Southern Water’s abstraction licences at the Rivers Test and Itchen

13/03/2018

This was a public inquiry into the Environment Agency’s proposed changes to three sets of surface water and groundwater abstraction licences at the River Test, River Itchen and Candover Stream in Hampshire. The Test and Itchen licences were held by Southern Water for the purpose of public water supply. The Candover licence was held by the Agency but Southern Water wished to use it for augmenting water in the Itchen in times of drought. 

The Agency’s proposals were made on the ground that more restrictive conditions are necessary in order to achieve compliance with the Habitats Directive and Water Framework Directive.

Shortly before the pre-inquiry meeting in November 2017, Southern Water announced that it no longer contested the proposals for the Test and Itchen subject to the imposition of special conditions allowing increased abstraction during drought conditions on ground of imperative reasons of overriding public interest pursuant to Article 6(4) of the Habitats Directive. The Environment Agency’s position was that the appropriate means of dealing with drought conditions is through the drought order and drought permit regime under Part II, Chapter III of the Water Resources Act 1991. 

The inquiry was due to last 3 weeks but at the opening the parties announced that agreement in principle had been reached between Southern Water and the Environment Agency pursuant to which Southern Water would withdraw its remaining objections and a water resource management scheme would be entered into by the parties pursuant to s.20 of the 1991 Act which would set out the process by which Southern Water will be able to ensure that it is ‘application ready’ to make an application for a drought permit order and by which such an application will be made and considered. The inquiry proceeded to hear representations from Fish Legal and other third parties on the proposed arrangements.

Charles Banner and Alistair Mills​ appeared for the Environment Agency.​

:

Inquiries

Land North of Field Head Lane, Laceby, North East Lincolnshire

01/03/2018

Alistair Mills represented the local planning authority in this three-day planning inquiry in relation to a proposal for residential development. The planning authority had refused planning permission, and the reason for refusal being defended at inquiry was that the proposed residential development included dwellings within 400m of an Intensive Livestock Unit, and was therefore contrary to local plan policy. The inquiry raised matters of odour and planning evidence. The appeal was dismissed.

:

Inquiries

Planning Permission Granted by Secretary of State at intu Milton Keynes

21/07/2017

The Secretary of State has granted planning permission for a major redevelopment of intu Milton Keynes, having called in the matter for his own determination.  The appeal was significant, as it considered the first Business Neighbourhood Plan to be made in England.

The Secretary of State, following his Inspector’s recommendation, concluded that the Neighbourhood Plan should not necessarily be interpreted according to the views of those involved in the drafting of it.  Neither should there be flexibility or leniency of interpretation on the basis that policies have been drafted by non-professionals.  The proposed development was in accordance with the statutory Development Plan as a whole, including the Neighbourhood Plan.

The proposal would give rise to considerable public benefits.  There would be harm to the setting of the listed Shopping Centre, but this would be less than substantial harm, and within the lower end of that classification.  The public benefits of the scheme were found to outweigh such harm.  No material considerations indicated that application should be refused contrary to the Development Plan.

Christopher Katkowski QC and Richard Moules appeared for intu.

David Elvin QC and Alistair Mills appeared for Milton Keynes Council.

:

Inquiries

Inquiry opens into proposed development at Springbok Estate, Alfold Crossways

20/07/2017

An inquiry has opened into Thakeham Homes’s appeal against the refusal of planning permission by Waverley Borough Council for a residential-led scheme at the Springbok Estate, Alfold Crossways, Surrey.  The application proposes 400 new dwellings, independent living care facility, a primary school, and associated development.

David Elvin QC and Alistair Mills are instructed by Thakeham Homes.

:

Inquiries

Call-in inquiry into redevelopment of intu Milton Keynes

10/04/2017

This 9-day inquiry raised issues of heritage harm and neighbourhood planning, as well as a stopping-up order.  Alistair, led by David Elvin QC, represented the Local Planning Authority which supported the proposals.

:

Inquiries

Land off Denman Lane, Huncote, Blaby, Leicestershire

13/04/2016

Alistair Mills represented the local planning authority in this two-day planning inquiry in relation to a proposal for residential development. The inquiry raised transport and planning matters. Alistair was instructed around 24 hours before the start of the inquiry, and cross-examined the Appellant’s two witnesses.

:

Inquiries

The Cheshire East Council (Crewe Footpath Nos. 3 (Part) and 11 (also known as Footpath No. 36)) Cycle Tracks Order 2014

01/03/2016

Alistair Mills represented the local authority in promoting the above order under the Cycle Tracks Act 1984, in relation to changing a route from a footpath to a cycle track.

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