planning law

Our planning law team have the experience and expertise to assist with a broad range of planning matters throughout the South West and beyond. Our planning lawyers can provide straightforward, proactive and practical advice on the following areas:-

Planning applications

We offer pre-application advice on whether planning permission is needed and the type of planning permission that should be applied for. In addition to planning permission for new developments and alterations to existing buildings we also advise on the complex planning rules relating to change of use. Often the barriers erected by planning officers, such as planning conditions, can be overcome by negotiation. We are ideally placed to represent you at negotiations and planning committee meetings to as to maximise your prospects of achieving a desired outcome and minimising the risk of a disappointing refusal.

Appeals against refused planning applications

When faced with a planning refusal by planning officers, legal advice should always be sought from an experienced planning solicitor on the merits of appealing against that refusal. Complex policy decisions, at local and national level, can affect the chances of any appeal against a refused planning application. Our planning law specialists can explain how these policies really impact on a planning appeal and present your case effectively either by written representations and submissions or by appearing on your behalf at planning appeals.

Certificates of lawful existing and proposed use or development

Problems caused by buildings erected or developed without planning permission, or change of use of land without planning permission, can often be overcome by obtaining a certificate of lawful existing use or development. A specialist planning law solicitor will always be needed to compile the evidence necessary to prove a certificate should be granted. Our planning lawyers routinely apply for certificates of lawful existing use or development.

The General Permitted Development Order allows certain new developments, building works and changes of use, automatically; without the need for planning permission. However, we recommend that documentary evidence showing the work carried out under the General Permitted Development Order (in the form of a Certificate of Lawful Proposed Use or Development) is always obtained from the local planning department. A future purchaser will always want to see such confirmation and this will prevent the planning officer taking any enforcement action.

Planning obligations

Often planning departments will require applicants to enter into planning obligations, also known as section 106 agreements or unilateral undertakings, as a condition of planning approval. These are complex legal agreements that will bind the land subject to the planning application. They often require the applicant to undertake certain works, or pay financial contributions towards planning policy goals such as affordable housing and highway works. The cost of complying can be very high and the requirements may severely restrict the use of the land; which in turn reduces its value. Accordingly specialist legal advice should always be sought. Our planning lawyers handle planning obligations for large and small developers and are always on hand to offer guidance and advice.

Enforcement of planning controls and appeals against enforcement 

Where planning officers suspect there has been a breach of planning law they can serve an enforcement notice, planning contravention notice or a breach of condition notice on the occupier of the land. Failure to comply with any of these notices can be a criminal offence. However, planning officers can get their facts wrong and incorrectly issue notices. Anyone who receives a notice should speak with one of our planning lawyers immediately to check their position as the time limit to appeal these notices is very short and strictly enforced.

Objections to planning applications

Our planning solicitors can help you present your objection to a planning application and ensure your voice is heard. Objections can be made by written representations to planning officers or by appearing and addressing planning committees deciding applications. A planning application which has been approved can only be challenged in the High Court by judicial review which is costly and time consuming. Therefore it is important to make your voice heard before the planning application is decided. If necessary, we can advise on the merits of making a High Court challenge and represent you at every stage of the process.