Gwion Lewis

Call: 2005
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Practice Summary

Gwion Lewis was called to the Bar in 2005 and specialises in public, planning, environmental, EU and public international law. He was “the most active barrister” at the junior Bar in 2016, measured by case days in the English courts (The Lawyer Court Rankings, 2016). Gwion is recommended as a leading junior in both of the main independent legal directories:

Gwion is a member of the Attorney General’s ‘A’ Panel of Junior Counsel, which means that he regularly acts for the UK Government in its most complex cases. Gwion is also a member of the Welsh Government’s ‘A’ Panel of Junior Counsel. He acts regularly for both public and private sector clients at inquiries and has extensive experience of judicial review proceedings and appeals in the higher courts. To date, he has appeared in over 120 inquiries and over 100 substantive judicial reviews. Gwion welcomes instructions from all areas of the UK and from international clients. He has experience of advising clients in island jurisdictions, including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Gwion is the editor of the ‘Wales’ section of the Planning Encyclopedia and he speaks regularly about legal affairs on television and radio. In 2013, he received the BAFTA Wales award for ‘Best Breakthrough’ for his television work. Recent broadcasting work includes writing and presenting critically-acclaimed documentaries on Brexit and the future of public service broadcasting for BBC Radio Cymru, and two series of Siarad o Brofiad (‘Speaking from Experience’), in which Gwion interviews prominent figures in Welsh public life on television for S4C.

View Gwion’s profile on our International site

Public

Public law is at the heart of Gwion’s practice. He is a member of the Attorney General’s ‘A’ Panel of Junior Counsel, which means that he regularly acts for the UK Government in its most complex cases. He is also a member of the Welsh Government’s ‘A’ Panel of Junior Counsel. Gwion’s cross-border practice means that he appears frequently in administrative courts and tribunals across England and Wales. He was “the most active barrister” at the junior Bar in 2016, measured by case days in the English courts (The Lawyer Court Rankings, 2016).

Many of Gwion’s cases feature aspects of planning and/or environmental law, but his interest in public law and judicial review extends more broadly to issues arising in immigration, human trafficking, education, equality and discrimination law, detention, transport, standards and ethics, care standards and property-related public law.

Gwion also has particular interest in public law issues arising from the current devolution settlement for Wales. His regular clients in Wales include the Welsh Ministers, Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh Language Commissioner.

The legal directories have recognized Gwion as a leading junior in administrative and public law for several years. In Legal 500, he has been described as “a top-class advocate”for judicial review claims who is “impressive” and “quick on his feet”. His written pleadings for public law litigation are described as “extremely effective” (Chambers & Partners).

Examples of Gwion’s recent and ongoing public law work include:

Brexit

  • ‘The Article 50 Challenge’ (ongoing) – acting for a campaign group that submits that no valid “decision to withdraw” from the European Union, as required by Art. 50(1) of the Lisbon Treaty, has been made in accordance with the UK’s constitutional requirements (with Hugh Mercer QC).

Immigration

  • Calais ‘jungle’ camp and the Dubs scheme (ongoing) – acting for the Secretary of State for the Home Department (“SSHD”) responding to various claims and applications for interim relief by those who previously occupied the ‘jungle’ camp in northern France and who claim to be related to UK nationals;
  • R (AT) v SSHD (ongoing) – whether an application for indefinite leave to remain (“ILR”) as a victim of domestic violence incorporates, in principle, a human rights claim;
  • R (NO) v SSHD [2016] EWCA Civ 876 – whether the SSHD had wrongly denied humanitarian protection to an Afghan national with serious mental illness;
  • R (Rashid) v SSHD [2015] UKUT 190 (IAC) – successfully defended the SSHD’s decision to refuse a Bangladeshi national leave to remain as a student when he had terminated his studies;
  • R (Azizi) v SSHD [2014] EWHC 4021 (Admin) – whether the SSHD’s decision to grant a family 3 years’ discretionary leave rather than ILR was unlawful;
  • R (Al-Beri) v SSHD (2014, settled) – judicial review of the alleged failure of the SSHD to make adequate arrangements to process applications for family reunion by those affected by hostilities in Syria;
  • R (Capital Care Services UK Ltd) v SSHD [2012] EWCA Civ 1151 – challenge to the revocation of a licence to sponsor migrants under Tier 2 of the points-based system.

Human trafficking

  • R (EM) v SSHD (ongoing) – leading case on the SSHD’s obligations to those identified as potential victims of trafficking but whose detention is maintained on public order grounds (with James Eadie QC);
  • R (TDT) v SSHD [2016] EWHC 1912 (Admin) – successfully resisted the first claim brought in the UK alleging that the SSHD had breached her positive operational duty under Art. 4 ECHR by releasing from detention a Vietnamese national claimed to be at risk of re-trafficking.

Education

  • RE v Governing Body of Ysgol Eifion Wyn, Porthmadog (ongoing) – acting for a young disabled boy who has Prader Willi syndrome in a claim before the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales seeking a declaration that he has been discriminated against due to failures to make reasonable adjustments in relation to his education;
  • R (Jones) v Denbighshire County Council [2016] EWHC 2074 (Admin) – successfully challenged on behalf of a former pupil the decision to close a rural Welsh-medium primary school;
  • Advised the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on proposed changes to its funding model.

Equality and discrimination law

  • R (Welsh Language Commissioner) v National Savings and Investments [2014] EWHC 488 (Admin) – sole counsel for the Commissioner in her first judicial review, challenging successfully NS&I’s decision to revoke its Welsh language scheme and cease its Welsh language services;
  • R (St Clair Toussaint) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Central London County Court, 2015) – claim that the SSHD breached her duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments when she transferred a disabled immigrant with no leave to remain in the UK from hospital to the detention estate;
  • R (MM) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2013] EWCA Civ 1565 – landmark case under the Equality Act 2010 about the extent of the duty to make reasonable adjustments for those with mental health problems who apply for employment support allowance (with Martin Chamberlain QC);

Detention

  • R (Botan) v SSHD [2017] EWHC 550 (Admin) – whether the immigration detention of a Somali male who had committed a serious sexual assault was still lawful after almost 4 years;
  • R (WT) v SSHD [2016] EWHC 659 (Admin) – successfully resisted a challenge to the SSHD’s decision to maintain the detention of a national of Myanmar after he had issued a claim for judicial review;
  • R (AS (Afghanistan)) v SSHD [2014] EWHC 3478 (Admin) – whether the SSHD could lawfully maintain the detention of a person as an adult when the High Court had ruled that his claim to be a child was at least arguable pending a fact-finding hearing;
  • R (AA (Sudan)) v SSHD [2014] EWHC 2118 (Admin) – whether a father’s outstanding application for contact with his child in family law proceedings meant that he could no longer be lawfully detained;
  • Tsavdaris v Home Office [2014] EWHC 440 (QB) – effect of the transitional provisions of the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006 on the lawfulness of detention;
  • R (Kajuga) v SSHD [2014] EWHC 426 (Admin) – judicial review of the 2-year detention of a person claiming to be from Burundi, but unable to prove that.

Transport

  • 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;
  • Crossrail (2007-2008) – one of the team of 5 Landmark Counsel who (i) advised the Department for Transport on the many public law issues arising in this £17 billion scheme; and (ii) appeared for the Department in Select Committee hearings in Parliament relating to the Crossrail Bill.

Standards and ethics

  • Heesom v Public Services Ombudsman for Wales [2014] EWHC 1504 (Admin) – intervened for the Welsh Ministers to make submissions about the compatibility of the Welsh ethical standards system for councillors with Article 10 ECHR.

Property-related public law

  • Wharton Park, Durham (2017) – acted for Durham County Council in a right of way inquiry: successfully persuaded the inspector to depart from her interim decision and conclude that public use of parkland held under the Public Health Act 1875 and Open Spaces Act 1906 was “by right”, not “as of right”.

Duty of candour

  • R (Khan) v SSHD [2016] EWCA Civ 416 – obtained an order setting aside a grant of permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal due to a failure to comply with the duty of candour.

Other

  • Advised Ofwat on a series of appeals relating to the transfer of private sewers or pumping stations;
  • Advised various public bodies on the implications of the Wales Act 2017 for the devolution settlement;
  • Advised the National Accounts Classification Committee on the classification of trust ports.

Planning

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.

Environment

Gwion advises on all aspects of environmental law and he has a diverse range of clients spanning the private, public and third sectors. The 2018 edition of Chambers & Partners UK recommends Gwion as a leading junior in environmental law (“He is a pleasure to work with and immensely collaborative. He creates a team feel”. “He picks up technical details very quickly and thoroughly, and is very good on his feet.”), as does the 2018 edition of Who’s Who Legal (“Gwion never fails to impress with his ability to produce high-quality and succinct arguments designed to win in a very short time frame.”)

For the last 8 years, Gwion has acted for Natural Resources Wales (and its predecessor, Environment Agency Wales) in all its environmental litigation in the higher courts. He is also frequently instructed by the Environment Agency, Defra, the Welsh Ministers and the Marine Management Organisation in cases raising issues of environmental law.

Gwion’s commercial clients in this area include several large international corporations (Dalkia plc, Covanta Energy, Kent International Gateway) and UK-based companies (Norton Aluminium, Bio E, Wharf Land Investments). He has also been advising many of the UK’s most respected environmental NGOs for several years, including WWF UK, ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth.

Gwion has particular expertise in the following areas:

  • EU environmental law
  • fisheries management
  • flood risk management
  • energy, including hydraulic fracking
  • environmental permitting
  • water resources
  • waste management
  • contaminated land
  • harbour management

Highlights of recent and ongoing work include:

EU environmental law

  • R (Seiont, Gwyrfai and Llyfni Anglers’ Society) v Natural Resources Wales [2016] EWCA Civ 797 – acted successfully for NRW in the first judicial review to raise issues under the Environmental Liability Directive (with David Forsdick QC);
  • Derwent Hydroelectric Power Ltd v Natural Resources Wales (2016) – successfully resisted an appeal against NRW’s decision not to grant licences to abstract and impound water on the River Clywedog due to the appellant’s failure to demonstrate no adverse impact on protected bryophytes;
  • Acting for the Environment Agency in several appeals against its decisions to issue penalty notices under (i) the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Regulations; and (ii) the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme Order (ongoing);
  • Advised the Welsh Ministers on the transposition of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2015);
  • Advised NRW in relation to the coal-fired operations at Aberthaw power station and their compliance with the Large Combustion Plant Directive (2014).

Fisheries management

  • R (Mott) v Environment Agency [2016] EWCA Civ 564 – resisting a challenge brought on A1P1 ECHR grounds to the Agency’s decisions to set low catch allocations for salmon fishing in the River Wye (with James Maurici QC in the Supreme Court, December 2017);
  • Cook v Environment Agency (ongoing) – acting for the Agency to resist a claim by a fish farm owner who alleges that the Agency has been negligent and/or in breach of statutory duty by not enforcing conditions in a water abstraction licence.

Flood risk management

  • King and others v Environment Agency (High Court, ongoing) – acting for the Agency in several claims seeking A1P1 damages for alleged use of land as a “flood storage” area;
  • Sharp v North Essex Magistrates’ Court [2017] EWCA Civ 1143 – successfully resisted, on behalf of the Environment Agency, a claim challenging its use of land entry powers under the Water Resources Act 1991 to carry out flood defence works rather than using compulsory purchase powers (with Dan Kolinsky QC);

Energy

  • Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station, Anglesey (ongoing) – advising Natural Resources Wales on the applications for development consent and various environmental permits;
  • R (Friends of the Earth) v North Yorkshire County Council [2016] EWHC 3303 (Admin) – defending 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);
  • Springs Road, Misson (2016) – advising Nottinghamshire County Council on an application to carry out exploratory drilling for shale gas;
  • Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay (2015) – acted for NRW 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.

Environmental permitting

  • Atlantic Ecopark, Cardiff (2015) – acted for NRW in a 3-day inquiry, resisting an appeal against the Agency’s decision to revoke environmental permits held by the same parent company across several sites.

Water resources

  • River Tywi, Nantgaredig, Carmarthenshire (2017) – acted for NRW in resisting an appeal by Welsh Water against the decision to vary its abstraction licence due to concerns about shad numbers.

Waste management

  • R (Newport City Council) v Welsh Ministers [2009] EWHC 3149 – represented the Welsh Ministers in a challenge to their assessment of landfill allowances for waste disposal authorities in Wales (with Clive Lewis QC).

Contaminated land

  • Advising Basildon Borough Council on contaminated land issues arising from the clearance of the Dale Farm gypsy site (ongoing).

Harbour management

  • Advised the National Accounts Classification Committee on the classification of trust ports (2016);
  • R (Humber Oil Terminals Trustees Ltd) v Marine Management Organisation [2012] EWHC 3058 (QB) – acted for the Marine Management Organisation in its first judicial review, concerned with the ambit of harbour revision orders under the Harbours Act 1964 (with James Maurici).

Qualifications

Gwion is a former US-UK Fulbright Scholar and has an LLM from New York University specializing in international human rights, language rights and the interface between law and security. This led to his appointment as a Visiting Scholar at the European University Institute in Florence where he pursued his interest in language rights in EU law.

Before he studied abroad, Gwion was a Scholar of Jesus College, Oxford, where he obtained a BA and a BCL (First Class) in Jurisprudence. When studying for the BCL, he focused on English and French public law, human rights, international dispute settlement and the public international law of the sea. During his time at Oxford, Gwion won several prizes for his performance in examinations on administrative law, public international law, criminal law and Roman law, and was awarded the Welson Prize for the most promising law student at Jesus College. He is also a former winner of the Oxford-Cambridge Intervarsity Mooting Competition and a Bedingfield Scholar of Gray’s Inn.

In 2017, Gwion was appointed to a 3-year term as a member of the Welsh Government’s Welsh Language Partnership Council. The Council was established under the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 to advise the Welsh Ministers on matters relating to the Welsh language. Gwion will serve as the legal member of the Council.

Also in 2017, Gwion was made an Honorary Fellow of Bangor University, Wales, for services to law.

Gwion is Welsh-English bilingual, has good French and is a certified upper-intermediate (B2) Italian speaker (University of Siena, CILS, 2011).

Recommendations

Chambers & Partners

  • “He makes complicated cases look straightforward despite difficult points.” (Planning, 2018)
  • “He is a pleasure to work with and immensely collaborative. He creates a team feel.”(Environment, 2018)
  • “He possesses real mastery of the detail on very technical issues, and is a confident and effective advocate.” (Planning, 2018)
  • “Provides excellent advice and is approachable. We have great confidence in him.” (Planning, 2017)
  • “He picks up technical details very quickly and thoroughly, and is very good on his feet.”(Environment, 2017)
  • “The extent of the detail and the effort he puts in is fantastic.” (Administrative & Public, 2016)
  • “He is an intelligent and able barrister and is easy to deal with.” (Planning, 2016)
  • His pleadings are extremely effective.” (Administrative & Public, 2015)
  • He has a good manner with clients, listens to what others say and is a fearsome cross-examiner.” (Administrative & Public, 2015)

Legal 500

  • “Very user-friendly and easy to work with.” (Planning, Environment, 2017)
  • “An impressive barrister with a growing reputation.” (Administrative & Public, 2017)
  • “Intellectually very capable and confident for someone of his call.” (Administrative & Public, 2016)
  • “He grasps technical details very quickly and is very well prepared.” (Planning, 2016)
  • “A top-class advocate; he has a good manner and is quick on his feet.” (Administrative & Public, 2015)
  • “He is excellent at picking up difficult technical issues quickly.” (Planning, 2015)
  • “Inspires confidence.” (Planning, 2014)

Who’s Who Legal

  • “[He] instils confidence in his clients thanks to his high level expertise.” (Environment, 2018)
  • “Gwion never fails to impress with his ability to produce high-quality and succinct arguments designed to win in a very short time frame.” (Environment, 2018)

Inquiries

Inquiries

Inspector dismisses planning and enforcement appeals relating to 34,000tpa commercial anaerobic digestion facility in the West Sussex countryside

11/10/2017

Following a 9 day inquiry on various dates between April and July 2017, Planning Inspector Katie Peerless Dip Arch RIBA has today dismissed three conjoined appeals by Crouchland Biogas Ltd against the decision of West Sussex County Council to refuse planning permission for a 34,000 tonnes per annum commercial anaerobic digestion facility at Crouchland Farm in Plaistow, West Sussex, and against two enforcement notices issued by Chichester District Council against the commencement of that development without planning permission.

At the heart of the appeals was the Appellant’s contention that the existing matrix of planning permissions relating to the site generated a fall-back/baseline position which would involve a greater impact on the local environment, in particular on account of vehicle movements, than the proposed development. A certificate of lawfulness appeal had been heard and determined by the Planning Inspectorate in 2016 and found that the lawful use of the AD infrastructure on site was ancillary to the agricultural operations of the farm. There remained a hotly contested dispute, however, as to whether the appellant’s purported fall-back amounted to an ancillary agricultural use and, even if so, the extent to which it was a realistic outcome in the event that the appeals were dismissed.

The other considerations in the appeals included the effects of the proposed development, having regard to any fall-back position, on highway safety, the landscape, tranquility, heritage assets, ecology and its compliance with national and development plan policy relating to the need for and siting of renewable energy and waste management schemes.

In a 118-paragraph decision letter, the Inspector concluded that the Appellant’s purported fall-back/baseline scenario was not authorised by the existing planning consents relating to the site, and that in any event there were uncertainties relating to whether it would be implemented which limited the weight that should be accorded to it even if it were authorised. In the light of those conclusions, the Inspector found that the impacts of the development resulted in a number of breaches of the development plan and that material considerations did not justify a decision other than in accordance with the development plan.

The decision can be downloaded here.

Reuben Taylor QC appeared for the Appellant, Crouchland Biogas Ltd.

Charles Banner appeared for West Sussex County Council.

Gwion Lewis appeared for Chichester District Council.

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Inquiries

Right of way inspector: Public use of land held under the Public Health Act 1875 and Open Spaces Act 1906 “by right” not “as of right”

15/08/2017

If members of the public have been using paths laid out in a park, or area of open space, to travel between various points, can they establish a right of way over those paths by presumed dedication if that use has continued for 20 years?

Section 31 of the Highways Act 1980 provides for a ‘presumption of dedication’ to the public to be raised where a way has been enjoyed “as of right”, without interruption from the landowner, for at least 20 years. Use “as of right” is use that is nec vi, nec clam, nec precario (without force, not in secret, and not on the basis any permission).

In an interim decision issued in 2016 in relation to Wharton Park, Durham, the Secretary of State’s inspector had concluded that public use of paths within the park was “as of right”, not “by right”, even though she accepted that most of the park was held by Durham County Council (“DCC”) under the Public Health Act 1875 “for the purpose of being used as public walks or pleasure grounds”.

DCC objected to the interim decision and the same inspector held an inquiry in July 2017.

In her final decision, issued on 4 August 2017, the inspector stated that legal submissions made on behalf of DCC at the recent inquiry had led her to “reappraise” her interim decision. The inspector now accepts that where the public use paths laid out on land held under the Public Health Act 1875, this use will be “by right”, not “as of right”, such that the presumption of dedication does not arise. The inspector noted DCC’s submisssion, drawing on Hall v Beckenham Corporation [1949] 1 KB 716, that it had not been in a position to exclude public use of the paths, and that it would have been odd to consider the users of the paths trespassers, given the statutory basis on which the land has been held.

The inspector came to the same conclusion, in principle, about the other part of the park she now accepts has been held under the Open Spaces Act 1906, having stopped short of that conclusion in her interim decision.

Paragraphs 52 to 87 of the inspector’s final decision deal with this issue of the use being “by right”, not “as of right”, and are likely to be of interest in other cases raising similar issues.

Gwion Lewis acted for the order-making authority, Durham County Council, at the inquiry in July 2017.

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Inquiries

Revised tall building proposal for Bromley town centre “concentrated on overcoming the wrong problems”

28/03/2017

A planning inspector has dismissed an appeal seeking planning permission for a 12-13 storey mixed use building, including 69 residential units, in Bromley town centre.

The proposal was a revision of a previous scheme refused planning permission on appeal in 2014 because it was too tall and would have an overbearing impact on the living conditions of nearby residents.

The inspector who considered the revised proposal was not satisfied that the concerns of the 2014 inspector had been adequately taken on board. Indeed, the 2017 inspector observed that the appellant’s revised approach of “altering the proportions to remove the references to verticality, and of adding bay windows with obscure or opaque glass, concentrated on overcoming the wrong problems”. As a result, the scheme had “lost many of the architectural and aesthetic advantages of its predecessor” (para. 18). The scheme was not of “the highest standard of architecture” (para. 31).

Gwion Lewis acted for the successful local planning authority, the London Borough of Bromley.

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Inquiries

Broadmead House, 10-24 Auriol Road, London

03/03/2017

In a decision dated 3 March 2017, an inspector granted planning permission to demolish the existing residential buildings at Broadmead House, 10-24 Auriol Road, London, and replace them with a new 5-storey building comprising 24 residential units (Class C3) and related development.

The main issues in the case were (i) whether the proposal would have an unacceptable impact on parking stress in the locality; and (ii) whether the proposal made adequate provision for affordable housing.

The inspector was satisfied that the issue of parking stress could be controlled satisfactorily pursuant to an undertaking offered by the appellant under section 16 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974 which would preclude 16 of the 24 units in the development from being able to apply for a parking permit.

The inspector was also persuaded by the appellant’s evidence that it would not be viable for any affordable housing to be provided by the scheme, the Council having not provided any evidence of its own to challenge this assessment.

Gwion Lewis acted for the successful appellant, Permaform Ltd, instructed by Maxwell Winward.

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Inquiries

East of Benner Lane, West End, Surrey

30/11/2016

In a decision dated 30 November 2016, an inspector granted planning permission for 95 houses and related development on land to the east of Benner Lane, West End, Surrey.

The inspector was satisfied that the proposal would not have an unacceptable impact on the character and appearance of the area or on the setting of a neighbouring listed farmhouse and outbuilding. The local planning authority having accepted that it did not have a 5-year housing land supply, the inspector was not persuaded that the adverse impacts of the proposal would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits (para. 14, NPPF).

Gwion Lewis acted for the successful appellant, Southern Heritage Developments Ltd.

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Inquiries

‘Zig-zag’ housing scheme designed by international architect dismissed on appeal

02/09/2016

A planning inspector has dismissed an appeal seeking planning permission for a 253-unit housing scheme on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) in the London Borough of Bromley.

The appellant had argued that the unusual zig-zag appearance of the 8-9 storey residential block, designed by the respected international architect, Ian Ritchie, was exemplary. When this was combined with the Borough’s alleged housing supply deficit and other matters, it was said that there were “very special circumstances” that justified allowing the “inappropriate development” in the MOL.

The inspector agreed that the Borough lacked a 5-year housing supply, but did not consider the proposal to be of “sufficient architectural quality” in terms of its scale and massing and the quality of some of the accommodation. Given the loss of openness and the harm to the character and appearance of the surroundings, the inspector was not satisfied that the proposal amounted to sustainable development. Accordingly, there were no very special circumstances which justified the grant of planning permission.

Gwion Lewis acted for the successful local planning authority, the London Borough of Bromley. The decision in full is available here.

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Inquiries

Secretary of State: Housing proposal that conflicts with an emerging neighbourhood plan is “not sustainable”

25/04/2016

The Secretary of State has accepted the recommendation of his inspector and dismissed an appeal by Sunley Estates Ltd seeking planning permission for 120 houses on the edge of the village of Hambrook in West Sussex.

In the inquiry which heard the appeal, Chichester District Council resisted the scheme on the basis that the level of housing proposed would conflict with the settlement hierarchy in its recently adopted Local Plan. This hierarchy indicated that only 25 new homes should be built in the parish in question, Chidham and Hambrook, over the period of the Plan (2014-2029). The Council also resisted the proposal on the basis that the emerging Chidham and Hambrook Neighbourhood Plan did not identify any new sites for major housing development given that planning permission had already been granted for 86 homes in the parish since January 2014 on sites other than the appeal site.

The Secretary of State agreed with his inspector that the proposal conflicted with the objectives of the settlement hierarchy in the Local Plan. Moreover, noting that, since the inquiry closed, the Neighbourhood Plan had passed the examination stage and could therefore be given more weight, the Secretary of State also agreed that “granting permission would be at odds with the shared neighbourhood planning vision referred to in paragraph 183 of the Framework; and that it would fundamentally undermine confidence in the neighbourhood planning process that has taken place to date” (para. 15). Mainly on that basis, the Secretary of State concluded that “the scheme would not amount to sustainable development” (para. 21), endorsing the following conclusions of the inspector:

“164. The social role of sustainable development is described as supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing the supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by creating a high quality built environment, with accessible local services that reflect the community’s needs and support its health, social and cultural well-being [93]. Notwithstanding the fact that I have concluded that the Council is able to demonstrate a five year supply of land for housing, the margin for error in that calculation is very small [156]. The appeal scheme would provide a social benefit by delivering housing and contributing to a more robust five year housing land supply. It would also assist in meeting affordable housing needs at the District level [25 fn]. As noted above [162], the site occupies a sustainable location. Various specific community aspirations, including a new shop and recreational facilities, would be met [28].

165. However, the above description of the social role of sustainable development is grounded in the concept of the community. In this case, a policy framework has been established by the recently adopted Local Plan that provides the context for the community of Chidham and Hambrook to plan for development in the locality. The [Local Plan] does not indicate that there is a need within the Parish for the amount of market housing that is now proposed [127]. Given that the amount of affordable housing that the scheme would provide (48 units) would exceed the indicative figure for all housing within the Parish, there is no evidence that the scheme would meet an affordable housing need at the Parish level [25].    

166. I have concluded above that the proposal would conflict with the emerging NP when read as a whole [143]. […] Granting planning permission for the present proposal would therefore be at odds with the shared neighbourhood planning vision that is referred to in paragraph 183 of the Framework [94]. I agree with the Council that to allow this appeal would also fundamentally undermine confidence in the neighbourhood planning process that has taken place to date in Chidham and Hambrook. I consider that these factors are sufficient in the present case to over-ride the social benefits that I have described [164]. Overall, therefore, my findings in respect of the social dimension of sustainable development also weigh against the development.”

This follows another recent decision of the Secretary of State dismissing an appeal seeking planning permission for 25 houses in village of Loxwood in West Sussex because conflict with a made neighbourhood plan meant that the proposal was “not fully sustainable”.

Gwion Lewis acted for Chichester District Council at the inquiry.

Sasha White QC acted for the appellant, Sunley Estates Ltd.

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Inquiries

Secretary of State: Housing proposal that conflicts with neighbourhood plan is not “fully sustainable”

16/03/2016

The Secretary of State has accepted the recommendation of his inspector and dismissed an appeal by Crownhall Estates Ltd seeking planning permission for 25 houses in the village of Loxwood in West Sussex.

Chichester District Council had refused planning permission because the site was not allocated for housing development in the draft Loxwood Neighbourhood Plan 2013-2029 that was then emerging. When the appeal was considered at inquiry, the Loxwood Neighbourhood Plan had been made and was therefore a part of the development plan.

The Secretary of State agreed with the following conclusions of his inspector:

“226. […] Policy 45 [of the Local Plan] refers to development in the countryside that requires a countryside location and meets the essential, small scale, and local need which cannot be met within or immediately adjacent to existing settlements. Given the housing provision made in the [Neighbourhood Plan] which is in accord with [Local Plan] policy 2, there is nothing in the development plan to suggest that the local housing need of Loxwood cannot be met within the defined Settlement Boundary.  Despite the appeal site being adjacent to an existing settlement, and there being no evidence of harm to agricultural operations from the proposal, there is no reason why the appeal development requires a countryside location.”

The inspector also accepted the Council’s case that a housing proposal that was in conflict with a made neighbourhood plan was at odds with the social dimension of sustainable development:

“263. […] As an aspect of the social dimension of sustainable development, the lack of accord with a neighbourhood plan that has undergone the full process of being made amounts to considerably more than just the dislike of some local people for a proposal described by the appellant. Having regard to the importance given by the Government to neighbourhood planning, as well as the statutory status of the development plan, the conflict with the NP carries very substantial weight. 

264. Bringing these factors together, I reach an overall judgment having regard to the NPPF as whole that the proposal does not represent fully sustainable development.”

The Secretary of State also agreed with this analysis.

Gwion Lewis acted for Chichester District Council at the inquiry.

Stephen Morgan acted for the Council in related judicial review proceedings relating to the making of the Loxwood Neighbourhood Plan.

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Inquiries

Inspector recommends adoption of Draft Isle of Man Strategic Plan 2015

14/12/2015

An independent inspector appointed by the Isle of Man Government has recommended the adoption of the Draft Isle of Man Strategic Plan 2015, subject to minor modifications.

The Island’s Department of Infrastructure (“DoI”) is promoting the Draft 2015 Plan to update housing policies in the Isle of Man Strategic Plan 2007 to take account of population data from the Island’s Census in 2011. Evidence in relation to housing demand, housing supply and the proposed distribution of housing across the Island was heard in an examination in September 2015.

In his report, the inspector concluded that the proposal to construct an additional 5,100 houses over the period 2011-2026, with the greatest proportion (2,440 houses) to be built in the east of the Island, in or around the capital, Douglas, should be adopted.

It is now expected that a final version of the Draft 2015 Plan will be submitted to the Isle of Man’s Parliament, Tynwald, for formal adoption.

Gwion Lewis acted for the Isle of Man’s DoI at the public examination in Douglas.

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Inquiries

Development consent granted for the world’s first man-made tidal energy lagoon

17/06/2015

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has granted development consent for Wales’ most ambitious NSIP (nationally significant infrastructure project) since the Planning Act 2008 came into force.

The world’s first man-made, energy-generating tidal lagoon at Swansea Bay is now a step closer after the Secretary of State accepted the recommendation of the five inspectors who examined the proposals that consent should be granted. The promoters claim that the £1bn project, which has an installed capacity of 320MW, will be a reliable source of renewable energy for some 150,000 homes for 120 years.

One of the main issues during the examination hearings was how to assess the likely significant environmental effects of the project when, as the promoters of the scheme accepted, the impacts of the project are “inherently evolving and involving uncertainty”. The Secretary of State accepted her inspectors’ recommendation that so-called ‘adaptive environmental management’ (“AEM”) processes were a “reasonable and pragmatic approach” to mitigating such effects for “aspects of the marine environment where uncertainty cannot be ruled out”, “particularly in relation to intertidal and coastal areas”. However, the Secretary of State also supported the view expressed by Natural Resources Wales (“NRW”) that “in general, an adaptive approach should not replace clear, upfront and enforceable mitigation plans” (para. 17).

The promoters’ application for a marine licence under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 is still being considered by NRW. The Secretary of State acknowledged that the promoter “will not be able to commence construction of the offshore elements of the generating station until NRW are satisfied that stringent environmental conditions are met and that appropriate monitoring of environmental impacts will be required during the operation of the generating station” (para. 96).

For the BBC’s coverage of the project, please click here.

Gwion Lewis acted for Natural Resources Wales throughout the public examination and continues to advise NRW on all aspects of the scheme.

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Inquiries

Examination of plans for the world’s first man-made tidal energy lagoon opens in Swansea

01/08/2014

The public examination of plans for Wales’ most ambitious NSIP (nationally significant infrastructure project) since the Planning Act 2008 came into force has opened in Swansea this week.

Four inspectors have been appointed to scrutinize the £850m project, which would be the world’s first man-made, energy-generating tidal lagoon, with an installed capacity of 320MW. The promoters claim that it would provide a reliable source of renewable energy for some 150,000 homes for 120 years.

The Severn Estuary has been selected for the project as it holds the second highest tidal range in the world.

The scheme raises many novel and complex issues under the Water Framework Directive and the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. The relationship between the development consent order (DCO) required under the 2008 Act, and the marine licences required under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, is also a main issue.

For the BBC’s coverage of the project, please click here.

Gwion Lewis is acting for Natural Resources Wales (NRW) throughout the examination. As well as being an interested party in the examination given its statutory functions, NRW also exercises marine licensing functions on behalf of the Welsh Ministers.

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Inquiries

Inquiry into Energy from Waste plant at Ardley, Oxfordshire

09/07/2010

A planning inquiry into Viridor Waste Management Ltd’s proposals for an energy from waste, waste management facility, on an existing waste site at Ardley, Oxfordshire close to junction 10 of the M40 opened at Cherwell DC offices in Banbury. The proposals, which have been procured by Oxfordshire County Council to process all OCC’s residual municipal waste were refused permission by OCC as planning authority last year. The proposed facility will treat up to 300,000 tonnes of waste per annum which would otherwise go to landfill. Issues raised by OCC and Cherwell DC principally relate to the acceptability of the proposals in terms of impact on the countryside. Issues regarding other matters are raised by others, including the local parish councils.

David Elvin QC and Toby Fisher represent the Appellant, Viridor Waste Management Ltd

Gwion Lewis represents Cherwell DC

For further information click here

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Inquiries

Inquiry into state-of-the art in-vessel composting facility at Wisley Airfield

18/09/2009

The Secretary of State granted planning permission following the recommendations of his Inspector (inquiry September 2009) for a new in-vessel composting facility on part of the former Wisley Airfield, Surrey in the Green Belt. Although earlier objections had been made by Natural England due to potential impact on the Thames Basin Heaths SPA amendments to the scheme (permitted by the Inspector and subject to EIA before the inquiry) led to the withdrawal of the NE habitats objection.

The IVC facility would process 30,000 tonnes of biodegradable waste per annum, sourced from Surrey and neighbouring counties. It would handle both municipal organic waste separated at source and biodegradable wastes from the commercial sector to produce high-quality compost for the horticultural and agricultural sectors. The operation would be fully commercial, with no public access. It would be fully enclosed such that the entire composting process would take place within a single building without the need for an external maturation area. The composting process would consist of 3 stages, each performed in separate parts of the building: waste reception and pre-treatment; in-vessel composting: and maturation, screening and bagging. The composting building would be a fully enclosed steel portal frame construction with a fully sealed concrete floor. It would be mechanically ventilated to keep it under negative pressure and fitted with fast acting roller shutter doors that open and close automatically, triggered by vehicle sensors.

The Inspector and Secretary of State accepted the case for the need for waste management facilities in Surrey and found that there was compliance with the Surrey Waste Plan and very special circumstances to warrant development in the Green Belt. Objections by the Royal Horticultural Society and local groups based on concerns about biopathogens and potential impact on the RHS Gardens at Wisley and on human health were rejected.

(This is the second major waste management facility approved by the Secretary of State in a week: see also news item for 2 March 2010 concerning the Rivenhall Airfield facility in Essex)

David Elvin QC and Gwion Lewis represented the Appellant, Wharf Land Investments (Jersey) Ltd.

Robert Walton and Toby Fisher represented Guildford Borough Council

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Inquiries

Gwyneth Lane, Garson Field Farm, Wraysbury

03/12/2008

An appeal against an enforcement notice alleging unlawful use of mobile homes by gypsy family in the Green Belt.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the Appellant.

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Inquiries

86 Warham Road, Croydon

25/11/2008

An appeal against refusal of planning permission for a terrace of housing adjacent to a care home.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Croydon Council.

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Inquiries

Cavick House Farm, Wymondham, Norfolk

13/11/2008

Appeal against refusal of planning permission for the conversion of a dilapidated barn into residential accommodation.

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Inquiries

The Limes, North Orbital Road, St Albans

29/10/2008

Appeal against refusal of a lawful development certificate for a commercial storage use adjacent to a garden centre.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority,St Albans District Council.

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Inquiries

RAF Upper Heyford, Bicester, Oxfordshire

30/09/2008

Appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the development of 1075 houses and the conversion of aircraft hangars into employment use on the site of the largest remaining Cold War airbase in the UK.

Gwion Lewis appeared alongside Graeme Keen for the local planning authority, Cherwell District Council, and Oxfordshire County Council.

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Inquiries

Dunlopillo Latex Foam Ltd, Pannal, Harrogate

22/07/2008

An appeal against refusal of planning permission for the conversion of 7 hectares of employment land outside Harrogate to a mixed-use development composed principally of housing and office space.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Harrogate Borough Council, led by David Elvin QC.

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Inquiries

Bridgefoot Meadows, Kirdford, Sussex

26/06/2008

Appeal against refusal of planning permission for a gypsy site on the outskirts of a hamlet in Sussex.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Chichester District Council.

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Inquiries

Richard King v Portsmouth City Council

07/03/2008

Appeal against enforcement notice alleging unlawful use of the garden to the rear of a public house as a public playground.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Portsmouth City Council.

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Inquiries

1 & 2 Hill Farm Cottages, Thursley, Surrey

04/03/2008

Appeal against refusal of planning permission for conversion of two semi-detached houses into a residential complex in a Surrey hamlet.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Waverley Borough Council.

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Inquiries

Westway Advertising Towers, Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

26/02/2008

An appeal against refusal of planning permission for 3 illuminated advertising towers in the Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the Appellants, Westway Development Trust and their advertising partner, JCDecaux.

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Inquiries

7 Willett Road, Croydon

23/01/2008

An appeal against the refusal of planning permission for 57 residential flats in an area with substandard accessibility to public transport in Croydon.

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Inquiries

Fairlands, Biggleswade, Mid-Bedfordshire

04/12/2007

An appeal against refusal of planning permission for conversion of residential dwelling to a care home.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Mid Bedfordshire District Council.

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Inquiries

Pennoxstone Court, Hereford

06/11/2007

An appeal against an enforcement notice seeking the removal of polytunnels used by a soft fruit producer in an AONB.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the Appellant, led by David Elvin QC.

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Inquiries

Marydell, Culverstone

23/10/2007

An appeal against enforcement notice alleging unlawful erection of second dwelling within Area of Outstanding National Beauty and an Area of Great Landscape Value.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the Appellant.

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Inquiries

Broom House, Tower Road, Hindhead, Surrey

11/09/2007

An appeal against refusal of planning permission for extension to an art deco house on the border of the Surrey Hills AONB.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Waverley Borough Council.

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Inquiries

Cornerways, Hindhead, Surrey

31/07/2007

Appeal against refusal of planning permission for sheltered housing on the outskirts of a Surrey village.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Waverley Borough Council.

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Inquiries

Pepperbox Stud, Surrey

22/11/2006

Appeal against enforcement notice alleging unlawful change of use from agricultural land to a commercial horsekeeping business; encompassing the issue of extreme animal cruelty.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Waverley Borough Council.

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Inquiries

Crossrail Bill (Parliamentary Hybrid Bill proceedings) [from 2004 and continuing]

01/01/2004

I am leading the Counsel team (which comprises two other silks and 2 juniors) which is promoting the Crossrail bill through Parliament for the Department for Transport. We completed Commons Select Committee during 2007, had confirmation of government funding from the Prime Minister in the autumn and will beginning House of Lords Select committee hearings in February 2008. The Bill gives powers for the largest rail project since the Victorian period and will provide a much needed new railway into and through central London from east, west and Kent. It has important implications for the economy of London, the South East and therefore the UK as a whole. It involves a large number of controversial development, compensation and other issues – including noise, settlement, heritage, local communities, transport, and environmental assessment. Property issues are in important issue in terms of acquisition, valuation compensation and settlement negotiations. In addition to appearing in committee, I have been advising Government on the many issues raised by the Bill since autumn 2004 and have been heavily involved in the process since then.

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Inquiries

Inspector dismisses planning and enforcement appeals relating to 34,000tpa commercial anaerobic digestion facility in the West Sussex countryside

11/10/2017

Following a 9 day inquiry on various dates between April and July 2017, Planning Inspector Katie Peerless Dip Arch RIBA has today dismissed three conjoined appeals by Crouchland Biogas Ltd against the decision of West Sussex County Council to refuse planning permission for a 34,000 tonnes per annum commercial anaerobic digestion facility at Crouchland Farm in Plaistow, West Sussex, and against two enforcement notices issued by Chichester District Council against the commencement of that development without planning permission.

At the heart of the appeals was the Appellant’s contention that the existing matrix of planning permissions relating to the site generated a fall-back/baseline position which would involve a greater impact on the local environment, in particular on account of vehicle movements, than the proposed development. A certificate of lawfulness appeal had been heard and determined by the Planning Inspectorate in 2016 and found that the lawful use of the AD infrastructure on site was ancillary to the agricultural operations of the farm. There remained a hotly contested dispute, however, as to whether the appellant’s purported fall-back amounted to an ancillary agricultural use and, even if so, the extent to which it was a realistic outcome in the event that the appeals were dismissed.

The other considerations in the appeals included the effects of the proposed development, having regard to any fall-back position, on highway safety, the landscape, tranquility, heritage assets, ecology and its compliance with national and development plan policy relating to the need for and siting of renewable energy and waste management schemes.

In a 118-paragraph decision letter, the Inspector concluded that the Appellant’s purported fall-back/baseline scenario was not authorised by the existing planning consents relating to the site, and that in any event there were uncertainties relating to whether it would be implemented which limited the weight that should be accorded to it even if it were authorised. In the light of those conclusions, the Inspector found that the impacts of the development resulted in a number of breaches of the development plan and that material considerations did not justify a decision other than in accordance with the development plan.

The decision can be downloaded here.

Reuben Taylor QC appeared for the Appellant, Crouchland Biogas Ltd.

Charles Banner appeared for West Sussex County Council.

Gwion Lewis appeared for Chichester District Council.

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Inquiries

Right of way inspector: Public use of land held under the Public Health Act 1875 and Open Spaces Act 1906 “by right” not “as of right”

15/08/2017

If members of the public have been using paths laid out in a park, or area of open space, to travel between various points, can they establish a right of way over those paths by presumed dedication if that use has continued for 20 years?

Section 31 of the Highways Act 1980 provides for a ‘presumption of dedication’ to the public to be raised where a way has been enjoyed “as of right”, without interruption from the landowner, for at least 20 years. Use “as of right” is use that is nec vi, nec clam, nec precario (without force, not in secret, and not on the basis any permission).

In an interim decision issued in 2016 in relation to Wharton Park, Durham, the Secretary of State’s inspector had concluded that public use of paths within the park was “as of right”, not “by right”, even though she accepted that most of the park was held by Durham County Council (“DCC”) under the Public Health Act 1875 “for the purpose of being used as public walks or pleasure grounds”.

DCC objected to the interim decision and the same inspector held an inquiry in July 2017.

In her final decision, issued on 4 August 2017, the inspector stated that legal submissions made on behalf of DCC at the recent inquiry had led her to “reappraise” her interim decision. The inspector now accepts that where the public use paths laid out on land held under the Public Health Act 1875, this use will be “by right”, not “as of right”, such that the presumption of dedication does not arise. The inspector noted DCC’s submisssion, drawing on Hall v Beckenham Corporation [1949] 1 KB 716, that it had not been in a position to exclude public use of the paths, and that it would have been odd to consider the users of the paths trespassers, given the statutory basis on which the land has been held.

The inspector came to the same conclusion, in principle, about the other part of the park she now accepts has been held under the Open Spaces Act 1906, having stopped short of that conclusion in her interim decision.

Paragraphs 52 to 87 of the inspector’s final decision deal with this issue of the use being “by right”, not “as of right”, and are likely to be of interest in other cases raising similar issues.

Gwion Lewis acted for the order-making authority, Durham County Council, at the inquiry in July 2017.

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Inquiries

Revised tall building proposal for Bromley town centre “concentrated on overcoming the wrong problems”

28/03/2017

A planning inspector has dismissed an appeal seeking planning permission for a 12-13 storey mixed use building, including 69 residential units, in Bromley town centre.

The proposal was a revision of a previous scheme refused planning permission on appeal in 2014 because it was too tall and would have an overbearing impact on the living conditions of nearby residents.

The inspector who considered the revised proposal was not satisfied that the concerns of the 2014 inspector had been adequately taken on board. Indeed, the 2017 inspector observed that the appellant’s revised approach of “altering the proportions to remove the references to verticality, and of adding bay windows with obscure or opaque glass, concentrated on overcoming the wrong problems”. As a result, the scheme had “lost many of the architectural and aesthetic advantages of its predecessor” (para. 18). The scheme was not of “the highest standard of architecture” (para. 31).

Gwion Lewis acted for the successful local planning authority, the London Borough of Bromley.

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Inquiries

Broadmead House, 10-24 Auriol Road, London

03/03/2017

In a decision dated 3 March 2017, an inspector granted planning permission to demolish the existing residential buildings at Broadmead House, 10-24 Auriol Road, London, and replace them with a new 5-storey building comprising 24 residential units (Class C3) and related development.

The main issues in the case were (i) whether the proposal would have an unacceptable impact on parking stress in the locality; and (ii) whether the proposal made adequate provision for affordable housing.

The inspector was satisfied that the issue of parking stress could be controlled satisfactorily pursuant to an undertaking offered by the appellant under section 16 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974 which would preclude 16 of the 24 units in the development from being able to apply for a parking permit.

The inspector was also persuaded by the appellant’s evidence that it would not be viable for any affordable housing to be provided by the scheme, the Council having not provided any evidence of its own to challenge this assessment.

Gwion Lewis acted for the successful appellant, Permaform Ltd, instructed by Maxwell Winward.

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Inquiries

East of Benner Lane, West End, Surrey

30/11/2016

In a decision dated 30 November 2016, an inspector granted planning permission for 95 houses and related development on land to the east of Benner Lane, West End, Surrey.

The inspector was satisfied that the proposal would not have an unacceptable impact on the character and appearance of the area or on the setting of a neighbouring listed farmhouse and outbuilding. The local planning authority having accepted that it did not have a 5-year housing land supply, the inspector was not persuaded that the adverse impacts of the proposal would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits (para. 14, NPPF).

Gwion Lewis acted for the successful appellant, Southern Heritage Developments Ltd.

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Inquiries

‘Zig-zag’ housing scheme designed by international architect dismissed on appeal

02/09/2016

A planning inspector has dismissed an appeal seeking planning permission for a 253-unit housing scheme on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) in the London Borough of Bromley.

The appellant had argued that the unusual zig-zag appearance of the 8-9 storey residential block, designed by the respected international architect, Ian Ritchie, was exemplary. When this was combined with the Borough’s alleged housing supply deficit and other matters, it was said that there were “very special circumstances” that justified allowing the “inappropriate development” in the MOL.

The inspector agreed that the Borough lacked a 5-year housing supply, but did not consider the proposal to be of “sufficient architectural quality” in terms of its scale and massing and the quality of some of the accommodation. Given the loss of openness and the harm to the character and appearance of the surroundings, the inspector was not satisfied that the proposal amounted to sustainable development. Accordingly, there were no very special circumstances which justified the grant of planning permission.

Gwion Lewis acted for the successful local planning authority, the London Borough of Bromley. The decision in full is available here.

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Inquiries

Secretary of State: Housing proposal that conflicts with an emerging neighbourhood plan is “not sustainable”

25/04/2016

The Secretary of State has accepted the recommendation of his inspector and dismissed an appeal by Sunley Estates Ltd seeking planning permission for 120 houses on the edge of the village of Hambrook in West Sussex.

In the inquiry which heard the appeal, Chichester District Council resisted the scheme on the basis that the level of housing proposed would conflict with the settlement hierarchy in its recently adopted Local Plan. This hierarchy indicated that only 25 new homes should be built in the parish in question, Chidham and Hambrook, over the period of the Plan (2014-2029). The Council also resisted the proposal on the basis that the emerging Chidham and Hambrook Neighbourhood Plan did not identify any new sites for major housing development given that planning permission had already been granted for 86 homes in the parish since January 2014 on sites other than the appeal site.

The Secretary of State agreed with his inspector that the proposal conflicted with the objectives of the settlement hierarchy in the Local Plan. Moreover, noting that, since the inquiry closed, the Neighbourhood Plan had passed the examination stage and could therefore be given more weight, the Secretary of State also agreed that “granting permission would be at odds with the shared neighbourhood planning vision referred to in paragraph 183 of the Framework; and that it would fundamentally undermine confidence in the neighbourhood planning process that has taken place to date” (para. 15). Mainly on that basis, the Secretary of State concluded that “the scheme would not amount to sustainable development” (para. 21), endorsing the following conclusions of the inspector:

“164. The social role of sustainable development is described as supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing the supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by creating a high quality built environment, with accessible local services that reflect the community’s needs and support its health, social and cultural well-being [93]. Notwithstanding the fact that I have concluded that the Council is able to demonstrate a five year supply of land for housing, the margin for error in that calculation is very small [156]. The appeal scheme would provide a social benefit by delivering housing and contributing to a more robust five year housing land supply. It would also assist in meeting affordable housing needs at the District level [25 fn]. As noted above [162], the site occupies a sustainable location. Various specific community aspirations, including a new shop and recreational facilities, would be met [28].

165. However, the above description of the social role of sustainable development is grounded in the concept of the community. In this case, a policy framework has been established by the recently adopted Local Plan that provides the context for the community of Chidham and Hambrook to plan for development in the locality. The [Local Plan] does not indicate that there is a need within the Parish for the amount of market housing that is now proposed [127]. Given that the amount of affordable housing that the scheme would provide (48 units) would exceed the indicative figure for all housing within the Parish, there is no evidence that the scheme would meet an affordable housing need at the Parish level [25].    

166. I have concluded above that the proposal would conflict with the emerging NP when read as a whole [143]. […] Granting planning permission for the present proposal would therefore be at odds with the shared neighbourhood planning vision that is referred to in paragraph 183 of the Framework [94]. I agree with the Council that to allow this appeal would also fundamentally undermine confidence in the neighbourhood planning process that has taken place to date in Chidham and Hambrook. I consider that these factors are sufficient in the present case to over-ride the social benefits that I have described [164]. Overall, therefore, my findings in respect of the social dimension of sustainable development also weigh against the development.”

This follows another recent decision of the Secretary of State dismissing an appeal seeking planning permission for 25 houses in village of Loxwood in West Sussex because conflict with a made neighbourhood plan meant that the proposal was “not fully sustainable”.

Gwion Lewis acted for Chichester District Council at the inquiry.

Sasha White QC acted for the appellant, Sunley Estates Ltd.

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Inquiries

Secretary of State: Housing proposal that conflicts with neighbourhood plan is not “fully sustainable”

16/03/2016

The Secretary of State has accepted the recommendation of his inspector and dismissed an appeal by Crownhall Estates Ltd seeking planning permission for 25 houses in the village of Loxwood in West Sussex.

Chichester District Council had refused planning permission because the site was not allocated for housing development in the draft Loxwood Neighbourhood Plan 2013-2029 that was then emerging. When the appeal was considered at inquiry, the Loxwood Neighbourhood Plan had been made and was therefore a part of the development plan.

The Secretary of State agreed with the following conclusions of his inspector:

“226. […] Policy 45 [of the Local Plan] refers to development in the countryside that requires a countryside location and meets the essential, small scale, and local need which cannot be met within or immediately adjacent to existing settlements. Given the housing provision made in the [Neighbourhood Plan] which is in accord with [Local Plan] policy 2, there is nothing in the development plan to suggest that the local housing need of Loxwood cannot be met within the defined Settlement Boundary.  Despite the appeal site being adjacent to an existing settlement, and there being no evidence of harm to agricultural operations from the proposal, there is no reason why the appeal development requires a countryside location.”

The inspector also accepted the Council’s case that a housing proposal that was in conflict with a made neighbourhood plan was at odds with the social dimension of sustainable development:

“263. […] As an aspect of the social dimension of sustainable development, the lack of accord with a neighbourhood plan that has undergone the full process of being made amounts to considerably more than just the dislike of some local people for a proposal described by the appellant. Having regard to the importance given by the Government to neighbourhood planning, as well as the statutory status of the development plan, the conflict with the NP carries very substantial weight. 

264. Bringing these factors together, I reach an overall judgment having regard to the NPPF as whole that the proposal does not represent fully sustainable development.”

The Secretary of State also agreed with this analysis.

Gwion Lewis acted for Chichester District Council at the inquiry.

Stephen Morgan acted for the Council in related judicial review proceedings relating to the making of the Loxwood Neighbourhood Plan.

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Inquiries

Inspector recommends adoption of Draft Isle of Man Strategic Plan 2015

14/12/2015

An independent inspector appointed by the Isle of Man Government has recommended the adoption of the Draft Isle of Man Strategic Plan 2015, subject to minor modifications.

The Island’s Department of Infrastructure (“DoI”) is promoting the Draft 2015 Plan to update housing policies in the Isle of Man Strategic Plan 2007 to take account of population data from the Island’s Census in 2011. Evidence in relation to housing demand, housing supply and the proposed distribution of housing across the Island was heard in an examination in September 2015.

In his report, the inspector concluded that the proposal to construct an additional 5,100 houses over the period 2011-2026, with the greatest proportion (2,440 houses) to be built in the east of the Island, in or around the capital, Douglas, should be adopted.

It is now expected that a final version of the Draft 2015 Plan will be submitted to the Isle of Man’s Parliament, Tynwald, for formal adoption.

Gwion Lewis acted for the Isle of Man’s DoI at the public examination in Douglas.

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Inquiries

Development consent granted for the world’s first man-made tidal energy lagoon

17/06/2015

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has granted development consent for Wales’ most ambitious NSIP (nationally significant infrastructure project) since the Planning Act 2008 came into force.

The world’s first man-made, energy-generating tidal lagoon at Swansea Bay is now a step closer after the Secretary of State accepted the recommendation of the five inspectors who examined the proposals that consent should be granted. The promoters claim that the £1bn project, which has an installed capacity of 320MW, will be a reliable source of renewable energy for some 150,000 homes for 120 years.

One of the main issues during the examination hearings was how to assess the likely significant environmental effects of the project when, as the promoters of the scheme accepted, the impacts of the project are “inherently evolving and involving uncertainty”. The Secretary of State accepted her inspectors’ recommendation that so-called ‘adaptive environmental management’ (“AEM”) processes were a “reasonable and pragmatic approach” to mitigating such effects for “aspects of the marine environment where uncertainty cannot be ruled out”, “particularly in relation to intertidal and coastal areas”. However, the Secretary of State also supported the view expressed by Natural Resources Wales (“NRW”) that “in general, an adaptive approach should not replace clear, upfront and enforceable mitigation plans” (para. 17).

The promoters’ application for a marine licence under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 is still being considered by NRW. The Secretary of State acknowledged that the promoter “will not be able to commence construction of the offshore elements of the generating station until NRW are satisfied that stringent environmental conditions are met and that appropriate monitoring of environmental impacts will be required during the operation of the generating station” (para. 96).

For the BBC’s coverage of the project, please click here.

Gwion Lewis acted for Natural Resources Wales throughout the public examination and continues to advise NRW on all aspects of the scheme.

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Inquiries

Examination of plans for the world’s first man-made tidal energy lagoon opens in Swansea

01/08/2014

The public examination of plans for Wales’ most ambitious NSIP (nationally significant infrastructure project) since the Planning Act 2008 came into force has opened in Swansea this week.

Four inspectors have been appointed to scrutinize the £850m project, which would be the world’s first man-made, energy-generating tidal lagoon, with an installed capacity of 320MW. The promoters claim that it would provide a reliable source of renewable energy for some 150,000 homes for 120 years.

The Severn Estuary has been selected for the project as it holds the second highest tidal range in the world.

The scheme raises many novel and complex issues under the Water Framework Directive and the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. The relationship between the development consent order (DCO) required under the 2008 Act, and the marine licences required under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, is also a main issue.

For the BBC’s coverage of the project, please click here.

Gwion Lewis is acting for Natural Resources Wales (NRW) throughout the examination. As well as being an interested party in the examination given its statutory functions, NRW also exercises marine licensing functions on behalf of the Welsh Ministers.

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Inquiries

Inquiry into Energy from Waste plant at Ardley, Oxfordshire

09/07/2010

A planning inquiry into Viridor Waste Management Ltd’s proposals for an energy from waste, waste management facility, on an existing waste site at Ardley, Oxfordshire close to junction 10 of the M40 opened at Cherwell DC offices in Banbury. The proposals, which have been procured by Oxfordshire County Council to process all OCC’s residual municipal waste were refused permission by OCC as planning authority last year. The proposed facility will treat up to 300,000 tonnes of waste per annum which would otherwise go to landfill. Issues raised by OCC and Cherwell DC principally relate to the acceptability of the proposals in terms of impact on the countryside. Issues regarding other matters are raised by others, including the local parish councils.

David Elvin QC and Toby Fisher represent the Appellant, Viridor Waste Management Ltd

Gwion Lewis represents Cherwell DC

For further information click here

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Inquiries

Inquiry into state-of-the art in-vessel composting facility at Wisley Airfield

18/09/2009

The Secretary of State granted planning permission following the recommendations of his Inspector (inquiry September 2009) for a new in-vessel composting facility on part of the former Wisley Airfield, Surrey in the Green Belt. Although earlier objections had been made by Natural England due to potential impact on the Thames Basin Heaths SPA amendments to the scheme (permitted by the Inspector and subject to EIA before the inquiry) led to the withdrawal of the NE habitats objection.

The IVC facility would process 30,000 tonnes of biodegradable waste per annum, sourced from Surrey and neighbouring counties. It would handle both municipal organic waste separated at source and biodegradable wastes from the commercial sector to produce high-quality compost for the horticultural and agricultural sectors. The operation would be fully commercial, with no public access. It would be fully enclosed such that the entire composting process would take place within a single building without the need for an external maturation area. The composting process would consist of 3 stages, each performed in separate parts of the building: waste reception and pre-treatment; in-vessel composting: and maturation, screening and bagging. The composting building would be a fully enclosed steel portal frame construction with a fully sealed concrete floor. It would be mechanically ventilated to keep it under negative pressure and fitted with fast acting roller shutter doors that open and close automatically, triggered by vehicle sensors.

The Inspector and Secretary of State accepted the case for the need for waste management facilities in Surrey and found that there was compliance with the Surrey Waste Plan and very special circumstances to warrant development in the Green Belt. Objections by the Royal Horticultural Society and local groups based on concerns about biopathogens and potential impact on the RHS Gardens at Wisley and on human health were rejected.

(This is the second major waste management facility approved by the Secretary of State in a week: see also news item for 2 March 2010 concerning the Rivenhall Airfield facility in Essex)

David Elvin QC and Gwion Lewis represented the Appellant, Wharf Land Investments (Jersey) Ltd.

Robert Walton and Toby Fisher represented Guildford Borough Council

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Inquiries

Gwyneth Lane, Garson Field Farm, Wraysbury

03/12/2008

An appeal against an enforcement notice alleging unlawful use of mobile homes by gypsy family in the Green Belt.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the Appellant.

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Inquiries

86 Warham Road, Croydon

25/11/2008

An appeal against refusal of planning permission for a terrace of housing adjacent to a care home.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Croydon Council.

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Inquiries

Cavick House Farm, Wymondham, Norfolk

13/11/2008

Appeal against refusal of planning permission for the conversion of a dilapidated barn into residential accommodation.

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Inquiries

The Limes, North Orbital Road, St Albans

29/10/2008

Appeal against refusal of a lawful development certificate for a commercial storage use adjacent to a garden centre.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority,St Albans District Council.

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Inquiries

RAF Upper Heyford, Bicester, Oxfordshire

30/09/2008

Appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the development of 1075 houses and the conversion of aircraft hangars into employment use on the site of the largest remaining Cold War airbase in the UK.

Gwion Lewis appeared alongside Graeme Keen for the local planning authority, Cherwell District Council, and Oxfordshire County Council.

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Inquiries

Dunlopillo Latex Foam Ltd, Pannal, Harrogate

22/07/2008

An appeal against refusal of planning permission for the conversion of 7 hectares of employment land outside Harrogate to a mixed-use development composed principally of housing and office space.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Harrogate Borough Council, led by David Elvin QC.

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Inquiries

Bridgefoot Meadows, Kirdford, Sussex

26/06/2008

Appeal against refusal of planning permission for a gypsy site on the outskirts of a hamlet in Sussex.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Chichester District Council.

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Inquiries

Richard King v Portsmouth City Council

07/03/2008

Appeal against enforcement notice alleging unlawful use of the garden to the rear of a public house as a public playground.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Portsmouth City Council.

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Inquiries

1 & 2 Hill Farm Cottages, Thursley, Surrey

04/03/2008

Appeal against refusal of planning permission for conversion of two semi-detached houses into a residential complex in a Surrey hamlet.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Waverley Borough Council.

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Inquiries

Westway Advertising Towers, Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

26/02/2008

An appeal against refusal of planning permission for 3 illuminated advertising towers in the Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the Appellants, Westway Development Trust and their advertising partner, JCDecaux.

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Inquiries

7 Willett Road, Croydon

23/01/2008

An appeal against the refusal of planning permission for 57 residential flats in an area with substandard accessibility to public transport in Croydon.

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Inquiries

Fairlands, Biggleswade, Mid-Bedfordshire

04/12/2007

An appeal against refusal of planning permission for conversion of residential dwelling to a care home.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Mid Bedfordshire District Council.

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Inquiries

Pennoxstone Court, Hereford

06/11/2007

An appeal against an enforcement notice seeking the removal of polytunnels used by a soft fruit producer in an AONB.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the Appellant, led by David Elvin QC.

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Inquiries

Marydell, Culverstone

23/10/2007

An appeal against enforcement notice alleging unlawful erection of second dwelling within Area of Outstanding National Beauty and an Area of Great Landscape Value.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the Appellant.

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Inquiries

Broom House, Tower Road, Hindhead, Surrey

11/09/2007

An appeal against refusal of planning permission for extension to an art deco house on the border of the Surrey Hills AONB.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Waverley Borough Council.

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Inquiries

Cornerways, Hindhead, Surrey

31/07/2007

Appeal against refusal of planning permission for sheltered housing on the outskirts of a Surrey village.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Waverley Borough Council.

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Inquiries

Pepperbox Stud, Surrey

22/11/2006

Appeal against enforcement notice alleging unlawful change of use from agricultural land to a commercial horsekeeping business; encompassing the issue of extreme animal cruelty.

Gwion Lewis appeared for the local planning authority, Waverley Borough Council.

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Inquiries

Crossrail Bill (Parliamentary Hybrid Bill proceedings) [from 2004 and continuing]

01/01/2004

I am leading the Counsel team (which comprises two other silks and 2 juniors) which is promoting the Crossrail bill through Parliament for the Department for Transport. We completed Commons Select Committee during 2007, had confirmation of government funding from the Prime Minister in the autumn and will beginning House of Lords Select committee hearings in February 2008. The Bill gives powers for the largest rail project since the Victorian period and will provide a much needed new railway into and through central London from east, west and Kent. It has important implications for the economy of London, the South East and therefore the UK as a whole. It involves a large number of controversial development, compensation and other issues – including noise, settlement, heritage, local communities, transport, and environmental assessment. Property issues are in important issue in terms of acquisition, valuation compensation and settlement negotiations. In addition to appearing in committee, I have been advising Government on the many issues raised by the Bill since autumn 2004 and have been heavily involved in the process since then.

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