Jonathan Clay

Call: 1990

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Jonathan Clay is widely recognised as a leader in his field of planning and environment law. His casework includes court and public inquiry advocacy at the highest levels.

Known for his relaxed style, his ability to lead large teams and to take a strategic approach has proved invaluable in some of the groundbreaking cases in which he has been involved.

His practice covers all aspects of the enforcement of planning and environmental control, renewable energy, large-scale infrastructure projects and village greens, as well as housing, commercial and retail development schemes. He works for both applicants/appellants and authorities.

His High Court and Court of Appeal experience includes judicial review and statutory challenges at all levels, including the appellate courts. His Court practice at all levels reads as a list of some of the seminal cases in planning and environmental law: Suffolk Coastal v Hopkins Homes [2016] EWCA Civ 168; Oxted Residential v Tandridge BC [2016] EWCA Civ 414; NHS Properties Ltd v Surrey County Council [2016]EWHC1715 (Admin); R. (on the application of Fidler) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Court of Appeal [2011] EWCA Civ 1159

He represented Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club in the long-running Amex Community Stadium inquiry successfully resulting in the grant of permission for the celebrated new stadium on the edge of the Sussex Downs National Park, His recent workload has included major airport parking enforcement inquiry at Gatwick Airport (for the successful appellant), housing development for 850 homes in the Green Belt at Bromley (for the successful appellant), a host of windfarm and energy-related appeals and the first ever appeal under the Water Resources Act 1991 concerning unauthorized development in a river flood plain (for the successful appellant).

Major infrastructure inquiries have included power generation, railway infrastructure, motorways and waste projects. In 2010, he was asked to train Commissioners for the Infrastructure Planning Commission who deal with applications for major new infrastructure, including power stations, windfarms, airports, and highways. Jonathan has represented both local planning authorities and objectors in a series of public inquiries concerning the large on-shore wind farms; successfully persuading the Secretary of State to refuse permission.

Jonathan has direct and wide experience of promoting and supporting development of renewable energy generating schemes, as well as advising and representing both applicants and objectors. He is a member of Cornerstone Climate. Cases include Higher Denzell Wind Farm in Cornwall successfully representing Cornwall Council in the High Court defending their grant of permission for five 100 foot wind turbines and appearing in both NSIPs and section 78 appeals concerning renewable energy proposals. Jonathan is currently representing Boom Power’s  s. 78 appeal promoting a solar farm in Essex.

From 1990 to 1992, Jonathan was a Lecturer in Constitutional and Administrative Law, University of Westminster.

Expertise

  • Planning and Environment

    Jonathan’s experience includes all aspects of planning and environmental law, including judicial review, statutory appeals and major infrastructure projects. He has represented both developers and planning authorities in respect of large housing developments, wind-farms, major waste management facilities, motorways and trunk road schemes. On the basis of this experience he was invited in 2010 to provide training for Commissioners at the Infrastructure Planning Commission, that deal with large scale infrastructure projects including energy, transport and other major infrastructure projects. Jonathan has also provided recent training to Welsh local authorities and planning professionals on renewable energy development.

    He has advised local planning authorities on their Local Plans and Core Strategies, most recently advising Herefordshire Council throughout the process on their Local Plan (adopted October 2015).

    Recent High Court work has included successfully challenging the grant of planning permission for development affecting listed buildings, defending planning permissions for major mixed use development and infrastructure projects, representing a County Highway Authority in respect of the meaning and application of section 278 agreement, successful section 289 enforcement notice and section 288 planning appeals.

    He has both prosecuted and defended in Crown and Magistrates Courts in relation to planning, listed buildings and other enforcement actions. His Court experience includes extensive experience of judicial review and section 288 challenges at all levels, including the appellate courts. He also has particular experience in planning enforcement appeals and section 289 appeals to the High Court.

    Jonathan is recognised as a leading junior in Legal 500 2023 and Chambers & Partners 2022.

    Recent examples of his work include:

    Judicial Review/Statutory High Court challenge

    • (on the application of Trustees of the Cecil Estate Family Trust) v South Kesteven DC [2015] EWHC 1978 Development; Listed buildings; Planning permission: Status: Decision successfully quashed.
    • (on the application of Oxted Residential Ltd) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2015] EWHC 1484 Local Plan section 113, CIL schedule. Status: Under appeal to Court of Appeal due to be heard February 2016.
    • Hopkins Homes Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2015] EWHC 132 NPPF, policies for supply of housing, settlement limits. Status: Under appeal to Court of Appeal. Due to be heard November 2015.
    • Village Developments Plc v Tandridge DC [2014] EWHC Judicial review. Tree Preservation Order. Status: Decision successfully quashed.
    • R. (on the application of Corbett) v Cornwall Council [2013] EWHC 3958 (admin) wind farm, listed buildings, Habitat Regulations. Status: Application successfully resisted.
    • Truro City Council v Cornwall Council [2013] EWHC 2525. Major mixed development, development plan policy. Status: Application successfully resisted.

    Infrastructure and Waste

    • Upper Vaunces Wind Farm, Lincolnshire.(2014) Jonathan Clay successfully acted for local consortium of parish councils in Norfolk in defeating repeated major windfarm appeals in South Norfolk. Principal issues; landscape, historic buildings, need for renewable energy development, residential amenity.
    • Blockade Services Perrylands Lane, Surrey. Section 174 Enforcement Appeal against Surrey County Council. Jonathan acted for the successful appellant. Substantial waste development in the Green Belt. Raised important points relating to abandonment of previous use. Appeal allowed.
    • Trewern Argae: Ministerial appeal under the Water Resources Act 1991 concerning flood defence development in a river flood plain in 2009/10 to protect historic buildings. Jonathan represented successful appellant. Appeal allowed and full award of costs against Environment Agency.
    • Crowholt Windfarm, Notts. In January and February 2007, Jonathan represented the local planning authority in a public inquiry concerning what was proposed to be (at the time) the largest on-shore wind farm in England, successfully persuading the Secretary of State to refuse permission.

    Enforcement

    • Cophall Farm Airport Parking Surrey: A series of planning battles including a major public inquiry, and successful challenge to Inspector’s decision in High Court finally delivered a major airport parking scheme in 2014 on Green Belt land near Gatwick Airport. Jonathan represented the successful appellant.
    • v. OAO East Sussex County Council v SSCLG & Robins[2010] EWHC 4841 Reported Case summaries JPL [2010] 89. Judicial Review. Jonathan Clay acted for successful appellant in having enforcement notice quashed and full costs awarded. Jonathan successfully represented the Second Defendant in resisting legal challenge in High Court. Sec of State not represented. Permission hearing treated as final hearing by Judge. Important case on powers to correct enforcement notices and duties of respective authorities in mixed use cases involving both County and District matters.
    • HMS Ganges, Nr Ipswich, Suffolk. July 2010. Jonathan acted for Babergh District Council. Section 78 reserved matters appeal involving major scheme for redevelopment of former historic Royal Naval Training School including several historic buildings and ancient monuments. Case involved novel points on Environmental Impact Assessment of reserved matters application. Appeal dismissed.
    • Brownhills Business Park, Walsall, March 2010 and 2011. Jonathan acted for Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council. Section 78 Appeal for redevelopment of major active Business Park for housing. Case turned on conflict of policies for protection of employment land in Unitary Plan and Regional Strategy. Appeal allowed, but challenged under section 288, High Court quashed the decision with costs and remitted it to the Secretary of State. Appeal withdrawn with costs in 2011.
    • Blue Circle – Bromley Common. Jonathan acted for the appellant obtaining permission on appeal in the dramatic Blue Circle appeal in London Borough of Bromley where his clients obtained approval on appeal for 850 homes on unallocated Green Belt land in Bromley.
    • Brighton and Hove Albion Stadium, Falmer. Acting on behalf of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, Jonathan celebrated victory in 2008 for them in a long-s running battle to gain planning permission for the 22,500 seat Amex stadium at Falmer, on the edge of the National Park outside Brighton.

    Commons, Towns and Village Greens
    Jonathan has appeared in several high profile town and village green cases appearing for or advising both applicants and objectors to registration. Examples include:

    St Andrew’s Gardens, Gravesend (2010). Jonathan acted pro bono for objectors in five day public inquiry against Morag Ellis QC in a Town and Village Green inquiry in North Kent. The case raised important and novel points of law concerning registration where Council appropriated land under a range of statutory powers and acquisition by adverse possession. Result. Town Green registered on part of application site. Client: Urban Gravesham Civic Society
    Fern Road, St Leonards Hastings (2011-12). Lengthy and hard fought 8 day public inquiry where Jonathan acted for the landowner in successfully objecting to and defeating an application for a town green for land which has the benefit of planning permission. Client: Michael Pickup of Town and County Planning Solutions, East Sussex.

    EIA/SEA
    Jonathan is fully familiar with the principles of SEA and has recently advised Herefordshire in respect of their LDF and its SEA.

    Energy and renewables
    Jonathan has acted in several windfarm inquiries. His success rate in opposing wind farms of over 65% (well above the 50% national average) speaks for itself. He has provided seminars for local government in Wales concerning the application of Welsh renewable energy policy. Examples:

    Crowholt Windfarm, Notts. In January and February 2007, Jonathan represented the local planning authority (Bassetlaw) in a public inquiry concerning the largest on-shore wind farm in England, successfully persuading the Secretary of State to refuse permission.
    Grange Farm Wind Farm, Lincolnshire. Jonathan Clay acted for South Holland District Council. Major windfarm application in undesignated Fenland site. Section 78 appeal. Principal issues; landscape, historic buildings, need for renewable energy development, residential amenity. Appeal allowed.
    Upper Vaunces Wind Farm, Norfolk. Jonathan acted for Rule 6 party in fully argued long running section 78 appeal concerning large scale wind turbine development. Issues include noise, biodiversity, effect on landscape and historic environment, contamination, flicker. Appeal dismissed.

    Green belt and countryside
    Jonathan has acted for a number of clients, in relation to a wide range of developments. His Green Belt caseload has included large scale developerment [See Blue Circle – Brormley Common, where Jonathan acted for the appellant obtaining permission on appeal in the dramatic Blue Circle appeal in London Borough of Bromley (July 2007) where his clients obtained approval on appeal for 850 homes on unallocated Green Belt land in Bromley]. He has also acted in complex but also small scale enforcement and non residential development. – See Fidler v SSE [2004] EWCA 1295

    Highways and transport infrastructure
    Jonathan’s highways casework ranges from major motorway and trunk road public inquiries (eg M54, M1) to footpath and right of way cases. He has acted for the Highways Agency and local highway authorities in several high profile cases, including junction improvements and motorway services, motorway widening and by passes.

    Housing
    Jonathan acts for housing developers on housing and mixed use residential schemes. He has wide experience of acting for developers and local planning authorities in planning appeals in both rural and urban locations, most recently [December 2012] acting for Sunleys in obtaining planning permission for 500 dwellings at Kingsway in Burgess Hill in Mid Sussex. See also Bromley Common, and Brownhills.

    Minerals and Waste
    Jonathan has acted for mineral extraction developers in several high profile cases, dealing restoration and scope of work, including the major called in inquiry concerning Shoreham Quarry and Cement Works. His expertise in dealing with Environmental Impact issues has proved highly valued.

    Planning enforcement
    Planning enforcement is one of the most complex areas of planning law. Jonathan acts for appellants at all levels of enforcement work with some very high profile successes. His success rate of over 80% speaks for itself. Most recent cases include

    • Blockade Services Perrylands Lane, Surrey. Section 174 Enforcement Appeal against Surrey County Council. Jonathan acted for the appellant. Substantial waste development in the Green Belt. Raised important points relating to abandonment of previous use. Appeal allowed.
    • Cophall Farm, Surrey: A major airport parking enforcement inquiry at Gatwick Airport in summer 2008. Jonathan represented the appellant. Successfully challenged Inspector’s decision in High Court.

    Retail development
    Jonathan has acted for local authorities and developers in a number of retail and mixed use town centre cases.

    Rights of way
    Jonathan has represented clients in both public rights of way and private rights of way, including cases involving the mysterious doctrine of Lost Modern Grant.

    The Historic Environment
    Jonathan has acted in a number of high profile cases involving listed buildings and development in conservation areas, including acting for the Royal Yacht Squadron in respect of Cowes Castle. He is currently representing defendants in a major listed buildings enforcement prosecution in Sussex.

    Environment
    Environmental Law, including waste disposal, recycling, flooding, control of pollution, species and habitats protection and all areas of associated European law comprise a major area of practice for Jonathan; a long standing member of UKELA. He acted for the successful appellant in the first ever appeal by public inquiry under the section 110 of the Water Resources Act 1991, with a full award of costs against the Environment Agency (see Trewern Argae). He acts for major engineering and recycling firms, including FM Conway, where his complementary planning practice has also stood his clients in good stead (see Chelsfield Ammunition Depot). He has considerable experience in defending prosecutions in the Crown Court and Magistrates’ Court for regulatory offences concerning pollution, waste etc and is currently representing clients in respect of a number of alleged offences concerning waste disposal.

    Jonathan has advised and successfully represented a number of clients in prosecutions, as well as appeals and High Court challenges in this complex and specialist field of law. His expertise extends to cases including waste permitting, town and country planning, Environmental Protection Acts, Water Resources and Land Drainage Acts , Jonathan has experience across a wide field of relevant legislation ranging from the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to the Environmental Protection Acts and he can provide advice on procedure, law, evidence, as well as providing representation in the Courts at all levels.

    Jonathan has considerable experience advising in respect of this highly specialised environmental law discipline, both in the preparation of local plans and in evidence in planning appeals. He has advised and represented local planning authorities and appellants, working with expert witnesses in respect of existing and potential Natura 2000 and other European protected sites.

    Jonathan has provided advice and representation to waste operators on the Landfill Directive and the Environmental Permitting Regulations and on proposals for waste facilities of all kinds. He is currently acting for a waste management company in a prosecution under the Permitting Regulations and preparing to act in a Permitting inquiry and a town and Country Planning Enforcement appeal.

    Compulsory purchase and compensation
    Jonathan’s compulsory purchase experience includes public inquiry work and advice in respect of major infrastructure projects, including the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, East Coast Main Line and major trunk road/motorway projects.

  • Public Law and Judicial Review

    Jonathan has wide experience of Judicial Review and statutory legal challenges in the High Court and Court of Appeal, acting for either applicant or respondents.

    Recent High Court work has included successfully challenging the grant of planning permission for development affecting listed buildings, defending planning permissions for major mixed use development and infrastructure projects, representing a County Highway Authority in respect of the meaning and application of section 278 agreement, successful section 289 enforcement notice and section 288 planning appeals.

    Cases:

    Judicial Review/Statutory High Court challenge

    • (on the application of Trustees of the Cecil Estate Family Trust) v South Kesteven DC[2015] EWHC 1978 Development; Listed buildings; Planning permission: Status: Decision successfully quashed.
    • (on the application of Oxted Residential Ltd) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government[2015] EWHC 1484 Local Plan section 113, CIL schedule. Status: Under appeal to Court of Appeal due to be heard February 2016.
    • Hopkins Homes Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government[2015] EWHC 132 NPPF, policies for supply of housing, settlement limits. Status: Under appeal to Court of Appeal. Due to be heard November 2015
    • Village Developments Plc v Tandridge DC[2014] EWHC Judicial review. Tree Preservation Order. Status: Decision successfully quashed.
    • R. (on the application of Corbett) v Cornwall Council[2013] EWHC 3958 (admin) wind farm, listed buildings, Habitat Regulations. Status: Application successfully resisted.
    • Truro City Council v Cornwall Council [2013] EWHC 2525. Major mixed development, development plan policy. Status: Application successfully resisted.

    Judicial review is a regular feature of Jonathan’s High Court practice, acting for both applicants and defendants. Jonathan’s work in this field is at all levels, including statutory appeals (section 288 and 289) as well as Part 54 applications. For examples see: Fidler v. SSETR [2004] EWCA 1295; Catt v Brighton [2007] EWCA Civ 298; Westminster City Council v Cordiani [2013] ] EWHC 23 (Admin).

  • Commercial and Regulatory

    Jonathan has a highly successful track record of defending clients in Crown Court and Magistrates’ Court, as well as statutory tribunals and inquiries for alleged “regulatory” offences. This includes a range of planning and environmental enforcement notice cases concerning unauthorised development, demolition and alteration of listed buildings, work to protected trees, waste disposal, flood protection, control of pollution and health and safety.

    Cases include:

    Trewern Argae, Chelsfield Ammunition Depot, In R. v. OAO East Sussex County Council v SSCLG & Robins [2009] EWHC 3841. (Judicial Review), Jonathan acted for Second Defendant in enforcement appeal under section 289. [Secretary of State not represented]. The permission hearing was treated as final hearing by Judge. Important case on powers to correct enforcement Notices and duties of respective authorities in mixed use cases involving both County and District matters. On Jonathan’s submission in section 174 appeal, Enforcement Notice had been quashed by Inspector and costs awarded against ESCC. ESCC challenged by JR. SS did not appear at permission hearing. ESCC Application dismissed. Opposing Counsel: Lisa Busch for ESCC. [2009] EWHC 3841is also reported in summary at JPL [2011] Clients Craig Noel (Director of Planning) Strutt and Parker, Lewes and Messrs Heringtons, Solicitors, Eastbourne, BN21 4 RY.