Planning and Related Work

I have been involved in advising on planning, listing and compulsory purchase issues over a period of many years, and have been involved in public inquiries. I have also been involved in setting up a unique structure to provide additional supervisory powers to protect Covent Garden.

Examples:

Managing a lengthy public inquiry into an appeal against the refusal of planning consent for a high profile west end development. I was responsible for the selection of witnesses and assisting them with proofs of evidence. The development involved listed building issues and although the appeal resulted in the grant of outline planning permission we then had to negotiate the terms for a listed building consent with a large number of interested amenity societies.

Helping set up in 1987 the Covent Garden Area Trust. The CGAT is a unique vehicle which was formed to provide a second layer of planning control to ensure the continuation of the old GLC Central Covent Garden planning policies. I have acted for the Trust since its inception. It has been a very successful experiment, about which I have written in the Journal of Planning and Environment Law (the article was republished in booklet form). Acting for this client has given me a considerable insight into the problems of the “24 hour city” in terms of reconciling the interests of business owners (especially leisure operators) and residents. I eventually became Chairman of the Trust; see more under Background and Experience; Voluntary Sector.

The Covent Garden experience was useful to me in negotiating what I believe to be another unique arrangement, this time between the residents of the Barbican Estate in the City of London and the owners of an adjacent late-night entertainment venue. Under the arrangement, the Barbican residents agreed not to object to an application for a public entertainment licence until specified hours in return for an undertaking by the leisure operator not at any time in the future to apply for any later hours. Discussions have begun in other instances where this experiment may be replicated.

I also advised the Barbican Association in connection with the Listed Building Management Guidelines proposed by the Planning Authority and English Heritage following the listing of the Barbican Estate. The Guidelines as originally proposed were extremely restrictive and onerous in determining for what kinds of alteration Listed Building Consent would be required. I liaised with historic buildings experts in preparing a letter of objection to the Guidelines as originally proposed, and subsequently served with representatives of the Corporation of London, English Heritage, etc on a Joint Working Party which ultimately agreed upon a more relaxed regime.

Conducting (successfully – my client’s property was excluded from the CPO) an objection to the Royal Docks Compulsory Purchase Order made by London Docklands Development Corporation, acting for the owner of Millennium Mills, the largest London dockland flour mill.

Objecting on behalf of the Queens Moat House Hotel Group to a Compulsory Purchase Order for the redevelopment of part of Chester City Centre. This involved formulating the objection and working with five expert witnesses on their proofs covering a range of technical issues specific to the hotel industry. At the same time as preparing the objection I drafted and negotiated an agreement (which was ultimately signed) enabling the withdrawal of the objection by substituting a voluntary code covering the carrying out of the redevelopment works, the variation of the hotel leases to take account of the works, and compensation. I was appointed to monitor this project throughout before the prospective developers dropped the plan due to the then current economic conditions.

Advising an Islamic community in connection with their planning application to construct a new Mosque in the London Borough of Merton. This involved assisting in the drafting of presentational material for the Local Planning Authority and attending planning committee meetings. The application was strongly opposed by a variety of local and national interests but ultimately proved successful. I advised in connection with the complex Section 106 Agreement.

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