"a favourite of solicitors"
"exudes charm and competence. Displaying a natural flair for high-profile, high-value planning projects"
"the best silk of the set - he's just excellent."
"Always utterly charming, and inspires confidence in solicitors and clients."
"Strong track record in planning judicial reviews."
Mark has specialised in this area for over 30 years and in that time has gained experience of most development projects and problems that come to inquiry or before the Courts. He has a reputation as an approachable team player alert to the commercial needs of his client. He concentrates on an efficient and effective outcome. Mark is ranked as a leading silk for Planning in Chambers and Partners 2016 and Legal 500 2015.
Mark has a broadly based planning practice involving frequent appearances at inquiry, examinations in public and in the Higher Courts as well as the Upper Tribunal (Lands). His advisory practice reflects the same wide range of work including the preparation of major applications, EIAs and objections to development plans as well as to the validity and interpretation of planning permissions, s.106 obligations and conditions.
He is also experienced with alternative energy proposals having led in two recent challenges to major solar installations in the countryside, advised with respect to proposed wind installations and an anaerobic digester plant as well as considerable experience with "zero carbon' homes".
Mark has just completed a series of appearances before the House of Commons Select Committee considering the HS2 railway Hybrid Bill for a consortium of Buckinghamshire authorities. He handled matters such as landscape, ecological, heritage, property, community, waste, highway and traffic impacts of the scheme in both the construction and operational phases.
Mark Lowe is recognised as a leading silk in this field. Much of his experience of handling these issues has been gained in the context of the environmental assessment of applications for planning permission, High Court challenges to planning decisions and the environmental assessment of plans and in the context of planning inquiries.
Mark was recently instructed by Hertfordshire County Council to appear at an inquiry into proposals for a major waste to energy plant to treat all the domestic, together with a fraction of the commercial and industrial, waste arisings in the county. This involved issues relating to the world famous assemblage of Grade 1 listed heritage assets at Hatfield House, landscape issues, education and noise issues together with need, technology and traffic matters.
Mark appeared at a five week inquiry for the landowners opposing a series of major CPOs to acquire the land necessary to construct the Witney Bypass (Cogges Link Road). This involved issues of traffic engineering and forecasting, ecology, landscape, noise, and heritage impacts.
He has recently led two separate challenges to substantial solar installations. One in North Devon and the other in Dorset both, primarily, involving issues of sequential preference policy, agricultural quality and special landscape protection.
He has also advised on a large scale, agricultural, anaerobic digester plant proposed for construction in the open countryside
In recent years Mark appeared in the leading case of Save Historic Newmarket Ltd v Forest Heath District Council  EWHC 606 (Admin) in relation to the SEA of a Development Plan.
Other significant experience includes appearing in the Hartlepool 'Ghost Ships' litigation surrounding the proposal to break up the redundant US fleet in the UK, as well as advising on the content of Environmental Assessments and the impact of the Habitats Directive on individual development proposals.
He frequently advises on matters involving the Habitats Directive and similar matters. He has recent experience of protecting SSSIs noted for their mycological interest, migratory birds, and protected species (badgers, bats, newts and other reptiles etc).
Mark is engaged in many schemes of EIA development and is experienced in all the issues that arise on environmental assessment and the adequacy of such assessments against both domestic and European law. He appeared in the recent High Court challenge to the strategic environmental assessment to the treatment of the proposed 1,200 house extension to Newmarket in the Forest Heath Core Strategy: Save Historic Newmarket Ltd v Forest Heath District Council  EWHC 606 (Admin).
Energy and renewables
Mark has advised (local resident groups) on windfarm proposals and proposals for on-shore connections of off-shore plants to the National Grid. He has considerable experience of all the issues that arise on such applications.
Green Belt and countryside
Mark is well versed in all Green Belt issues. He has been involved recently in a number of major housing appeals in the Green Belt in the Thames Gateway (Barratts at Stanford le Hope and the Arndale School appeal) and he is acting for Linden Homes on another residential scheme in the Metropolitan Green Belt in Surrey. He appeared for National Grid in both the inquiry and the subsequent High Court challenge to the permission granted to erect a new high voltage line in the Leeds Green Belt to reinforce the Ferrybridge Ring. He was retained by Brands Hatch on their proposals to redevelop their circuit within the Green Belt to host the British Grand Prix. He has dealt with many urban extensions for residential development in the countryside, most recently at Salisbury, Wantage, Crowhurst, St Ives, Clacton-on-Sea etc. He has advised on a number of projects for the erection of 'PPS7 exceptional quality' new homes in the countryside.
Highways and transport infrastructure
Mark has a wide experience of a variety of these projects from road schemes (e.g. A12M for Waltham Forest BC, Witney Cogges Link Road, Barnstaple Western Bypass), rail schemes (e.g. London Bridge Station redevelopment and DLR extension to Woolwich Arsenal), to high voltage power lines (acted for Powergen in North Yorkshire Line inquiry and Ferrybridge Ring inquiry for National Grid currently before the Court of Appeal), power stations (advised Powergen on Local Plan policies to individual plants, advised on schemes of adaption to the Ferrybridge Power Station) and waste to energy plants ranging from the 1m tonnes pas capacity scheme on the Thames at Belvedere to smaller plants in Shropshire, Essex and mid-Wales.
Housing applications and appeals are a major part of Mark's practice. He deals with sites of all sizes for a wide range of clients from major housebuilders to local authorities and landowners. His experience ranges from many thousands of houses in new settlements to urban extension sites to individual sites within the built up areas, especially in taller buildings in London and the inner suburbs. He is experienced in all the issues from housing land supply calculations, affordable housing and viability; s.106 and CIL obligations; high quality modern design and sustainability; residential amenity in terms of overlooking, light and noise; trees and nature conservation including European protected species; highways both on and off site, flooding and drainage and land stability. He also has a wide advisory practice in this area.
Mark frequently handles affordable housing issues in the context of schemes on all scales, from a recent High Court challenge to the affordable housing provision in a scheme for 3,600 homes to a single tall block in Southend. He advises housebuilders, landowners and local planning authorities on the presentation of viability assessments both on appeal and in the context of applications. He has been invited to lecture on the treatment of the issue in the downturn. He also acts for affordable housing developers.
Minerals and waste
Mark has recently been engaged in a major restoration by open cast mining scheme on a major site comprising many historic coal workings in Merthyr Tydfil.
Mark is experienced in handling proposals for all forms of waste disposal from incineration or energy recovery to recycling and composting. He appeared in Cory's first 1m tpa proposal for a waste to energy plant at Belvedere on the Thames. He has appeared in a number of waste to energy and landfill proposals in Essex and Hampshire for operators. He appeared for the local planning authority in a chemical waste incinerator inquiry in Bournemouth. Recently he has been advising on proposals for a waste recycling centre in Essex, the relocation of a special school in Hertfordshire associated with the location of a new waste to energy plant and was retained to advise on a major waste to energy plant in Plymouth. He has also advised waste collection authorities on their duties and the landfill tax.
Mark has experience of most retailing issues. His experience is mainly with modern food and non-food proposals. His most recent experience was in relation to a major non-food and leisure retail park in Sussex and in gaining permission on appeal for a large food supermarket as the anchor to a major 1,000 homes urban redevelopment scheme in Ashford in Kent. He advised Next Plc on their out of town development policy. He appeared in many Tesco inquiries and is currently retained by Asda on their panel of approved counsel.
Rights of way
Rights of way often feature in Mark's planning appeals as well as in their own right. He is experienced in all the issues arising with respect to footpaths and similar public rights of way and also advises on issues with respect to private rights of way, particularly those that have the potential to affect proposed development schemes.
The historic environment
Mark has gained a wide experience in handling heritage issues. For example he has dealt with proposals for a Grade 1 Priory and listed Park in Essex, the demolition of a Grade II house in Trafford, the Gilbert Scott designed ticket office at St Pancras Station as well as many housing appeals relating to development of and within the setting of listed buildings. He also appears in enforcement actions relating to listed buildings and appeared in a leading case on the scope for enforcement action to a listed building: Former Powergen Site Inquiry, Ashford .
Compulsory purchase and compensation
Mark Lowe has had many instructions in this field appearing at public inquiries for CPOs and Certificates of Alternative Development as well as appearing in the Lands Tribunal and its successor - the Upper Tribunal (Lands) - in compensation and similar claims. He has been retained by all parties, landowner/objectors and acquiring authorities.
His most recent experience has been:
- Appearing at inquiry leading the team for the landowners objecting to the CPOs necessary to construct the proposed Witney Bypass [Cogges Link Road].
- Appearing at inquiry acting for the landowners in a s.17 Certificate claim relating to the compulsory acquisition of land in Barnstaple to construct the Western Bypass to the town. A claim which is now proceeding to the Tribunal.
- Acting for the Compensating Authority on a claim for compensation for the modification of a planning permission for an airfield.
- Advising the London Development Agency on the acquisition and redevelopment of major sites.
- Advising the Mayor on the structure of the schemes to support the London Olympics, including the need for compulsory acquisition.
- In the past Mark has been concerned in CPO and compensation matters in the Don Valley redevelopment in Sheffield, the regeneration of Sheffield City Centre, the regeneration of Canterbury City Centre and others.
- Appearing for National Grid to obtain the necessary orders to acquire the necessary interests in land and wayleaves to construct a new high power line in North Yorkshire.