Harriet Townsend

Call: 1992

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Harriet is a leading practitioner in planning and environment law, and related property matters (most notably compulsory purchase). Her practice covers a wide range of matters mainly concerned with the exercise of statutory powers and duties.

Harriet has followed the development of climate change as a legal and policy issue throughout her career and has been working with Surrey County Council on its defence in Finch v Surrey County Council (currently before the Supreme Court) since its decision in 2019. She has appeared in planning appeals and judicial reviews concerning proposals for renewable energy development, notably solar farm and onshore windfarm proposals; and she has led objections to significant energy related CPOs. She is a member of the Cornerstone Climate team.

Harriet’s clients include individuals, public authorities (mostly local authorities), planning consultants, developers, and solicitors working throughout England and Wales.

Recent work includes:

  • Judicial review and statutory appeals to the High Court. Issues of statutory, and policy, interpretation; reasons requirements; heritage assessment; and the role of climate change in environmental impact assessment, are prominent in Harriet’s recent cases.
  • Compulsory purchase – acting for promoters and objectors to a variety of orders: notably CPOs required to deliver complex regeneration projects and roads, as well as other buildings and land including vacant dwellings and listed buildings.
  • Compensation – representing landowners and public authorities in claims for compensation under various statutory provisions.
  • Planning and enforcement appeals raising issues of sustainability; heritage impact; air quality; and biodiversity – including statutory protection for habitats and species. Harriet has often represented clients at planning appeal hearings (a less formal procedure than an inquiry but one which allows for legal submissions and contributions by counsel, where appropriate).
  • Advising clients on rights to environmental information.
  • Local authority conduct, claims of misfeasance, bias, and maladministration.

Expertise