Planning and Environment

Cornerstone Barristers is a leading set for planning and environment work with “strong barristers at every level of experience”.

Our members are experienced at taking on everything from high-stakes and high profile planning inquiries and judicial review cases to advising and acting in relation to conservation issues and climate change disputes. They appear regularly in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, Crown Court and magistrates courts as well as before public inquiries, hearings, and local plan and NSIP examinations.

We act across multiple business sectors, including development, infrastructure, energy and leisure, often acting on major inquiries and nationally significant infrastructure matters.

Our barristers advise a wide range of clients including large property developers, public bodies such as local authorities and Secretaries of State, small businesses, community and special interest groups as well as individuals.

We are recommended as a leading set for both planning and environment work by Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 with many of our 45-strong team also individually recommended.

Planning

We have over 45 barristers across all levels of call who can assist with the full spectrum of planning and environment issues, including related areas such as public law, property, energy and local government law. We are specialists in compulsory purchase and compensation cases. Our barristers are regularly involved in planning enforcement appeals and inquiries, development plan and NSIP examinations and in planning challenges before the courts at all levels.

Particular expertise includes:

  • Housing and mixed-use developments
  • Green Belt, National Landscapes, and countryside
  • Energy and renewables
  • Local plans and Neighbourhood plans
  • Highways and transport infrastructure
  • Airports and aviation-related development
  • Habitats and species protection
  • Environmental impact assessments / Strategic environmental assessments
  • The historic environment
  • Compulsory purchase and compensation
  • Retail, leisure, and commercial development
  • Fracking
  • Minerals and waste
  • Commons, town and village greens, and open spaces
  • Rights of way

Environment

Cornerstone Barristers is known for its market leading expertise in environmental issues. This is a result of our members’ experience in not only planning and environmental issues but also related areas such as property, commercial and public law. We have a particular name for our “extensive knowledge of renewable energy”.

Members handle a wide variety of work including green belt and countryside issues, the historic environments, energy and renewables, fracking, minerals and waste, habitat and species protection as well as disputes relating to common land and village greens.

We have particular expertise and a growing reputation in relation to climate change related matters and are working at the forefront of those seeking imaginative solutions to climate and biodiversity risks. This involves us sharing best practice and insight between leading professionals across the construction, development, public policy and commercial worlds with initiatives such as the Cornerstone Climate Month.

Recent Planning and Environment Work

  • R (Finch & Weald Action Group) v Surrey County Council & Horse Hill Developments Ltd [2024] UKSC 20, on appeal from [2022] EWCA Civ 187: the first climate-based challenge to a grant of permission for commercial oil production which establishes the correct approach to “remote” planning impacts, such as the greenhouse gas emissions from burning the oil extracted by the grant of planning permission.
  • Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association v Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities [2023] EWHC 2548 (Admin). An important High Court challenge in relation to a decision granting planning permission for exploration and appraisal operations to assess commercial hydrocarbon production in an area of outstanding beauty.
  • Lower Thames Crossing Development Consent Order Examination: the largest and most expensive road project in the UK affecting Green Belt and Nationally protected landscapes and important wildlife sites, and causing widespread community impacts.
  • Gatwick Northern Runway DCO Examination: proposals for a second runway at Gatwick Airport  to allow the airport to cater for 80 million passengers per annum.
  • London Gateway LDO 2: a project of national significance as it provides the biggest distribution and storage facility in the region as well as port-side facilities for London Gateway/DPW Port which is the manor single component of Thames Freeport.
  • R (Uplift & Greenpeace) v SS Business Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Oil & Gas Authority  [2023] EWHC 2608 (Admin): a challenge by two leading UK climate change NGOs to the decision to allow the OGA to issue more than 100 new oil and gas licences.
  • Solar energy farm disputes: we are involved in a number of cases such as Sunnica and Bramley.
  • R. (on the application of Leadbetter) v Secretary of State for Transport [2023] EWCA Civ 1496: judicial review challenge supported by all major UK charities for blind and partially sighted people.
  • R (Together Against Sizewell C Ltd v Secretary of State for BEI: judicial review challenge to consent for Sizewell C nuclear power station.
  • Bibby Stockholm barge challenge: successful rebuttal of challenge to stationing and use of the barge to house asylum seekers.
  • R (Friends of the Earth, Client Earth and Good Law Project v Secretary of State for Energy Security & Net Zero: one of the most significant environmental cases heard in 2024 which challenged a key aspect of the net zero target.

Our members produce a leading planning text book: Cornerstone on the Planning Court (now in its second edition) which provides a detailed review and analysis of the work of the Planning Court, as well as a practical and tactical guide to planning judicial review and related statutory challenges.

We also host an annual Planning Day conference (around November) aimed at planning specialists, solicitors and policymakers. You can see highlights from Planning Day 2023 below and purchase the catch-up package (which includes not only handouts and slides but also recordings of all the sessions) for £75 + VAT here.

Contact the Clerks

    A superior set with strength and depth, providing an excellent service.

    Legal 500 (2024)

    Cornerstone is one of the leading public law and planning sets in the country.

    Legal 500 (2024)

    A growing force in planning. The turnover is increasing, and barristers are doing very high-profile planning challenges in the courts.

    Legal 500 (2024)

    Strong barristers at every level of experience.

    Legal 500 (2024)

    One of the top planning sets in London and has a strong environmental law team.

    Legal 500 (2022)

    A very strong set in my area of work – planning and environment.

    Legal 500 (2023)

    Cornerstone have a good group of barristers with excellent skills and expertise in the planning law field. I would not hesitate to instruct any of their specialists in this field.

    Legal 500 (2023)

    Cornerstone Barristers have always been my go-to, having worked with a variety of barristers within the chambers, each assisting with different aspects of planning and being able to support whichever case they are required.

    Legal 500 (2023)

    Cornerstone has a fantastic range of barristers, from silks to junior juniors, who are regularly instructed in some of the biggest and notable planning cases.

    Legal 500 (2023)

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