Zack Simons

Call: 2009
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Practice Summary

Zack is one of the most highly rated junior planning barristers in the country (Planning Magazine Legal Survey 2019). The legal directories rate him as “exceptionally talented” (Chambers & Partners), “in high demand” (Who’s Who Legal) and “one of the brightest juniors at the planning bar” (Planning Magazine Legal Survey).

Zack’s practice focuses on housing, infrastructure, commercial development, and compulsory purchase work. His client’s include some of the UK’s leading developers, housebuilders and land promoters, as well as central and local government. He appears regularly in planning appeals – at inquiries and hearings – local plan examinations, and court hearings in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

Zack has acted in some of the most important planning cases of recent years including 4 Supreme Court cases since 2015 (two of which were Hopkins Homes on housing land supply and CPRE v Dover on reasons for planning permissions), and a further case – Wright v Forest of Dean – which will be heard by Supreme Court in July 2019 and deals with what constitutes a material planning consideration. Zack has appeared in several key recent Court of Appeal cases: see the further information under the “Expertise” menus. He has been involved in several of the key cases that relate to the Green Belt: see the “Green Belt Development” tab. His planning appeal practice covers a mix of housing, retail, business-use and infrastructure schemes. Zack has promoted several CPOs, with particular focus on estate regeneration.

Zack is a “top-rated junior” in Planning Magazine (#3 in 2019), and before that was repeatedly ranked as one of the country’s top 5 junior barristers under 35. He has been recommended in both environmental and planning law by Chambers & Partners for many years.

Housing

Zack has acted for some of the UK’s leading housebuilders (including Barratt London, Barratt David Wilson, the Berkeley Group, Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Keepmoat Homes and Lioncourt Homes), a wide range of regional housebuilders and some of the country’s leading land promoters (including Gladman, Richborough Estates, Quinn Estates and Gallagher Estates) and many local planning authorities. He appears in a wide range of housing appeals, both at hearings and inquiry, and at plan examinations. Recent appeals include:

  • Leveller’s Court, Putney High Street, London: 123 units
  • Bath Road, Corsham: 150 units
  • Camberwell Green, Southwark, London: 38 units
  • Flitch Green, Essex: 240 units
  • Adderbury, Cherwell: 55 units
  • Hanslope, Milton Keynes: 51 units
  • Church Farm, Wavendon: 350 units
  • Belton, Lincolnshire: 23 units
  • Forest Farm, Chippenham: 200 units
  • Nipsells Chase, Mayland, Essex: 150 units
  • Clay Cross, Derbyshire: 84 units
  • Castle Street, Mere: 39 units
  • Bratton Road, Westbury: 47 units
  • South View, Lyneham: 60 units
  • Henham, Uttlesford: 36 units
  • Heybridge Basin, Essex: 31 units
  • First Road, Aldebury: 50 units
  • Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex: 17 units (Secretary of State recovered appeal)
  • Sedlescombe, East Sussex: 18 units (Secretary of State recovered appeal).

He has appeared in some of the most important housing cases since the introduction of the first NPPF, with a particular interest in cases on the proper approach to the assessment of housing need. Zack acted in several of the leading cases, including:

  • Suffolk Coastal District Council v Hopkins Homes Ltd [2017] 1 WLR 1865 where the Supreme Court examined the correct approach to the balance of housing need with environmental constraint policies under the NPPF.
  • Hallam Land Management Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities And Local Government [2018] EWCA Civ 1808 where the Court of Appeal considered the proper approach to housing land supply calculations in planning appeals.
  • Gallagher Homes Limited v Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council [2015] J.P.L. 713 where the High Court and Court of Appeal considered the radical change to housing need brought about the NPPF.
  • Kings LynnBC v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2015] EWHC (Admin) where the High Court considered the components of the “policy-on” approach to calculating housing requirement under the NPPF.

Other recent court challenges which involved housing development include:

  • Persimmon Homes v Newcastle City Council: Zack acted for Persimmon in its challenge to Newcastle CC’s adoption of a masterplan for Callerton, which provides for 3000 homes to the northwest of Newcastle.
  • R (Bigwood) v Oxted DC: Zack acted for St William (part of the Berkeley Group) successfully defending its permission to redevelop the Oxted gasholder site.
  • R (OPEN) v City of London: Zack acted for the City of London successfully defending a challenge to Taylor Wimpey’s “Denizen” scheme to the north of the Barbican in central London.
  • R (Wet Finishing Works Ltd) v Taunton Deane BC[2017] EWHC 1837 (Admin): Zack acted for the housebuilder in a case about whether a section 73 application could increase the number of units in a housing scheme.
  • R (CPRE) v Dover DCUKSC 2016/0188: Zack acted for the planning authority in an important case on Councils’ duties to give reasons, which concerned a 600-unit scheme in the Kent Downs AONB.

Zack has acted for national housebuilders, promoters and land owners in local plan examinations across the UK. He has advised developers of a number of major strategic housing sites, including Dunsfold Park (1800 dwellings), the North East Chelmsford Garden village (3000 dwellings) and New Lubbesthorpe (4250 dwellings).

Infrastructure

Zack has been instructed in relation to a number of major DCO schemes, including the Thames Tideway Tunnel, the Hornsea Project Three offshore wind farm and the Port of Immingham.

He currently acts for Highways England promoting the A27 Arundel Bypass, and advised Gatwick Airport on the implications of the Airport Commission’s reports on increasing airport capacity.

Zack has extensive experience of waste infrastructure planning and environmental permitting. He appeared at appeals for strategic-level facilities at:

  • Javelin Park, Gloucestershire, and
  • Avonmouth, Bristol.

Zack is currently promoting the Rolton Kilbride Renewable Energy Centre in Swindon. The inquiry will be heard in early 2019. Zack advises regularly on the definition of waste, and appeared in Skrytek v SoS for Energy and Climate Change [2013] EWCA Civ 1231, an appeal based on the proper interpretation of the waste hierarchy in relation to a proposed waste incineration plant in Derby.

Zack has acted on a range of on-shore wind energy schemes at planning hearings and appeals. He also advises the Marine Management Organisation on harbor-related infrastructure.

Plan Examinations

Zack regularly acts for promoters, developers, land owners and local authorities in local plan examinations across the UK and has a particular interest in cases involving disputes over land supply, and sites in the Green Belt (see the “Green Belt Development” tab under Expertise). Recent examinations include:

  • Appearing at an examination in the Midlands for a national housebuilder promoting a site for release from the Green Belt.
  • Appearing at an examination in the South-East for the promoters of a major strategic commercial and employment site near Gatwick Airport.
  • Appearing at an examination in a London Borough for the promoters of a mixed use commercial and residential scheme in the Green Belt.
  • Acting for an examination in Essex for a conglomerate of promoters and housebuilders to promote a major residential urban extension.

Mixed Development

  • McCracken v City of London, Inner Temple:  Zack successfully acted for the City of London resisting a challenge to the proposals to redevelop the Inner Temple Library.
  • Winters v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017] EWHC 357 (Admin):   Zack acted for the successful Secretary of State in a case on the proper approach to the prior approval regime under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.
  • Croke v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government[2017] P.T.S.R. 116:   Zack acted for the successful Secretary of State in a case that examined the correct approach to filing deadlines for claims under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
  • R (Champion) v North Norfolk DC [2015] 1 W.L.R. 3710: Zack acted for the successful Respondents in the Supreme Court, a leading case on the proper approach to environmental assessment in planning cases (led by Christopher Lockhart-Mummery QC).
  • University of BathZack acted for the University in an inquiry into the Bath & North East Somerset Council’s refusal of permission for a car park on the northern edge of its campus on the basis of alleged impacts on the setting of the Bathampton Camp, a Scheduled Ancient Monument (led by Russell Harris QC).
  • SnoasisZack advised the developers of the Snoasis scheme in Suffolk, which when constructed will be Europe’s largest indoor ski centre.
  • Al-Humera Mosque: Zack acted for the successful appellants at an inquiry in Newham which examined whether religious practices can constitute material planning considerations.
  • Save Britain’s Heritage Victorian Society v Sheffield City Council [2013] EWHC 2456 (Admin): Zack advised the University of Sheffield in relation to the demolition of the Edwardian extension to the former Jessop Hospital.

Commercial and Retail

  • Horley Business Park: Zack acts for the promoter of a major strategic business park development near Gatwick Airport.
  • Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd v Uttlesford DC [2012] P.A.D. 33: Zack appeared for the successful Rule 6 party in a supermarket appeal in Saffron Walden.
  • Hammerson Plc v City and County of Swansea Council [2015] P.A.D. 68: Zack advised the developer in the Parc Tawe retail park appeal in Swansea (led by Christopher Katkowski QC).
  • Cross Hands: advised developers on proposed retail development to the south east of Carmarthen (led by by David Elvin QC).

Enforcement

Zack regularly appears at enforcement inquires, s.289 appeals in the High Court, and enforcement prosecutions in the magistrates and Crown courts. He has extensive experience of both prosecuting and defending in proceedings under POCA.

Energy

Zack has particular experience of energy projects, including nuclear energy, energy from waste, and renewable energy in its various forms. He regularly appears at wind farm inquiries across the UK.

  • R. (Wright) v Forest of Dean DC [2016] EWHC 1349:   Zack acted for the successful Claimant in an important case on the materiality of community contributions in planning applications for renewable energy development (led by Neil Cameron QC).
  • Fracking: Zack advised in relation to Cuadrilla’s applications for exploratory fracking in Lancashire, and has delivered a number of lectures on fracking and Environmental Impact Assessment.
  • Stroud DC v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2015] EWHC 1940 (Admin):   Zack represented Stroud District Council at a 6 week inquiry and in the High Court in relation to a proposed EfW plant in Gloucestershire:
  • R (Burridge) v Breckland DC [2013] J.P.L. 1308:   Zack acting for the claimant in the High Court and the Court of Appeal in an important case on the interpretation of the EIA Directive.
  • Colman v SoS for Communities and Local Government [2013] EWHC 1138 (Admin):   Zack acted for the Claimant in a challenge to an Inspector’s grant of permission for a 9 turbine wind farm which raised important questions on the application of the NPPF.

Green Belt Development

Zack has acted in some of the key cases on development in the Green Belt in recent years, including:

  • (Boot) v Elmbridge BC [2017] EWHC 12 (Admin):   Zack acted for the for the Elmbridge Borough Council in a challenge to its proposed redevelopment of this Green Belt site to provide a major local sports and leisure facility (led by Neil Cameron QC). The case raised an important issue on the meaning of “preservation” of Green Belt openness.
  • Smith v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017] EWHC 2562 (Admin): Zack acted for the successful Secretary of State in a case on the proper approach to visual impacts and openness in the Green Belt.
  • R (Oakley) v South Cambridgeshire CC [2017] EWCA Civ 71: Zack acted for the successful appellant in a challenge to the proposed stadium for the Cambridge City football club within the Green Belt around Cambridge in an important case on the duty to give reasons in planning decisions.
  • Gallagher Homes Limited v Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council [2015] J.P.L. 713: Zack acted for the successful housebuilders both in the High Court and the Court of Appeal in an important case on the approach to “exceptional circumstances” for altering Green Belt boundaries.
  • R (Wildie) v Wakefield MDC [2013] EWHC 2769 (Admin): Zack acted for the Claimant in a case that examined the NPPF’s approach to granting permission in the Green Belt.

Zack has acted for a number of national housebuilders and promoters at examinations of local plans promoting sites for release from the Green Belt.

At planning appeals, alongside the general housing work summarised in the “Housing” section which has regularly involved development proposals in the Green Belt, Zack also acted for:

  • The appellant care home provider in an appeal which addressed whether a shortage of dementia care beds could constitute very special circumstances for extending a care home into the Green Belt.
  • The successful Rule 6 party in an inquiry into a proposed crematorium in the Green Belt in Lambley, Nottinghamshire on the sites which led to the Timmins v Gedling BC litigation in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Environmental Law

Zack acts across a wide range of domestic and European environmental law matters, both criminal and civil. He was instructed by the Environment Agency in one of the first public inquiries in the UK under the Environmental Damage Regulations, and acts in a range of appeals under the Environmental Permitting Regulations and other environmental legislation.

EIA

Zack has particular expertise in Environmental Impact Assessment cases, having contributed to the leading practitioners’ book on the subject, and acted in two of the most significant EIA cases of recent years: in R (Champion) v North Norfolk DC [2015] 1 W.L.R. 3710, and R (Burridge) v Breckland DC [2013] J.P.L. 1308.

 

Contaminated Land

Zack advises extensively on contaminated land matters. He has dealt with some of the country’s most complex contaminated sites, advising both on liability issues under the regulatory regimes – including Part 2A – and on structural and contractual aspects of transactions.

Waste

Zack has extensive experience of waste infrastructure planning and environmental permitting. He appeared at appeals for strategic-level facilities at:

  • Javelin Park, Gloucestershire, and
  • Avonmouth, Bristol.

Zack is currently promoting the Rolton Kilbride Renewable Energy Centre in Swindon. The inquiry will be heard in early 2019.

Zack has wide experience of advising companies faced with regulatory criminal proceedings in waste and hazardous waste related matters. He advises regularly on the definition of waste, and appeared in Skrytek v SoS for Energy and Climate Change [2013] EWCA Civ 1231, an appeal based on the proper interpretation of the waste hierarchy in relation to a proposed waste incineration plant in Derby.

Marine Law

Zack has wide experience of marine environmental law. He has worked extensively with the Marine Management Organisation on the productions of marine plans under the Marine and Coastal Management Act 2009. He edits the marine section of Garners Environmental Law, and is co-authoring a forthcoming book on marine planning and licensing.

Nuisance

Zack has advised on and acted in a variety of nuisance cases – both private and statutory nuisance – covering matters such as odour, noise, dust, and contamination of soil and groundwater.

Water

Zack has extensive experience of a variety of matters relating to water resources. In particular, he has acted in Environment Agency prosecutions for offences under the Water Resources Act 1991. He has advised on legal issues arising out of the Water Industry Act 1991. He has advised on the legal implications of groundwater contamination. He has advised extensively in relation to; the rights and liabilities of sewerage undertakers under the Water Industry Act 1991.

Compulsory Purchase

Zack is regularly instructed in relation to Compulsory Purchase Orders. Some recent cases include:

  • West Hendon: Zack acts for the successful developer, Barratt Homes, and the London Borough of Barnet, in relation to a series of CPOs to secure the regeneration of the West Hendon housing estate (led by Neil King QC).
  • Brent Cross: Zack advised an objecting landowner on the CPO inquiry into the regeneration of the Brent Cross.
  • Shepherd’s Bush Market: Zack acted for the successful developer and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham at the CPO inquiry into the regeneration of the Shepherd’s Bush Market (led by David Elvin QC).
  • Southall Gasworks: Zack acted for an objected at the inquiry into the regeneration of the Southall Gasworks.
  • Aylesbury housing estate: Zack advised leaseholders on the CPO inquiry into the regeneration of the Aylesbury housing estate in Southwark.
  • Wolverhampton: Zack advised an objector to the Wolverhampton City Centre Extension Order.
  • Granville Road Estate, Barnet: Zack acted for the developers, Mulalley and the One Housing Group, and the London Borough of Barnet, promoting CPO to secure the regeneration of the Granville Road housing estate in Barnet (led by Neil King QC).

Qualifications

2006/7 MSc Regulation, London School of Economics: Distinction
2003-2006 MA, Cambridge University, Gonville and Caius College: First Class (3rd in University)

Scholarships and Prizes
2008 Major Scholarship, Inner Temple
2008 Mooting Prize, College of Law
2006 Honorary Senior Scholarship, Gonville and Caius
2005 Senior Exhibition, Gonville and Caius

Memberships
UKELA
ELF
PEBA

Recommendations

Planning Magazine Legal Survey:

  • He is hugely articulate, very strong on his feet and one of the brightest juniors at the planning bar.” “He has a growing reputation as a senior junior barrister.”

Chambers & Partners:

  • 2019: “Very bright and approachable“, “His advocacy is well prepared and he is also very good in conference with clients”, “He is a modern member of the Bar and will go far.” “A popular name at the Planning Bar.”
  • 2018: “Excellent and personable”,  “a popular name at the Planning Bar”, “his attention to detail and pragmatism is second to none”.
  • 2017: ”A popular name at the Planning Bar”, “a practice beyond his call”,  “often in the higher courts and big inquiries”, “a very capable barrister.” “Always provides clear written advice, is very well informed and knowledgeable on planning and CPO issues”. “A good-quality, personable advocate with a strong ability to provide practical and commercial advice.”
  • 2016: “Incredibly impressive”, “Very capable”, “Very affable and offers excellent service” “Excellent at picking up the ball and running with it, responding quickly to his clients’ needs and identifying exactly what is required”
  • 2015: “Exceptionally talented and remarkably composed and authoritative”, “Admired for the experience he brings to public inquiries”,“Manages his client effectively and presents a thoroughly good case.”
  • 2014: “A young barrister who will go far,” he is popular with clients as “he explains things very clearly and is highly responsive”, “an able advocate, who can deal with technical matters in a clear and concise way.”
  • 2013: “the up-and-coming Zack Simons is winning praise from market sources, who recognise that although very junior, he is already “excellent for that level.””

Who’s Who Legal:

  • 2016: “Making waves in the environmental field, advising on a range of criminal and civil domestic and European environmental law matters.”
  • 2015: “His resolute focus and astute legal mind ensure he is in high demand.

Inquiries

Javelin Park Inquiry closes

29/01/2014

Closing submissions were heard today in the Javelin Park Energy from Waste (EfW) Inquiry which has sat for 6 weeks. The called-in appeal followed Gloucestershire County Council’s decision to refusal of planning permission for an EfW plant to process approximately 190,000 tonnes of non-hazardous residual waste on a site affecting the setting of the Costswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

David Elvin QC and Richard Moules acted for Gloucestershire County Council as waste planning authority, Zack Simons acted for Stroud District Council.

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Inquiries

Javelin Park Inquiry closes

29/01/2014

Closing submissions were heard today in the Javelin Park Energy from Waste (EfW) Inquiry which has sat for 6 weeks. The called-in appeal followed Gloucestershire County Council’s decision to refusal of planning permission for an EfW plant to process approximately 190,000 tonnes of non-hazardous residual waste on a site affecting the setting of the Costswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

David Elvin QC and Richard Moules acted for Gloucestershire County Council as waste planning authority, Zack Simons acted for Stroud District Council.

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