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Flora Curtis - Pupil

Year of call: 2019

Practice areas: Planning, Environment, Public Law, Local Government, Licensing, Major Infrastructure Projects, Compulsory Purchase and Compensation, Rating

Flora Curtis - Pupil

Flora Curtis is currently undertaking a twelve-month pupillage in Chambers and welcomes instructions across all of Chambers’ practice areas. She is currently under the supervision of Ned Westaway, having spent four months under the supervision of Mark Westmoreland Smith.

Flora’s main areas of interest include:

  • Planning and environment;
  • Public law, human rights and EU law;
  • Local government;
  • Licensing;
  • Rights of way and highways;
  • Village greens and commons;
  • Infrastructure.

In appropriate cases, Flora is happy to work on a pro-bono basis.

Planning

Flora has gained experience of a range of planning matters during pupillage. These include:

  • Judicial review and statutory challenges;
  • Permitted development rights;
  • Challenges to officers’ reports;
  • Lawful development certificates;
  • Enforcement notices;
  • The interpretation of planning policy;
  • The interpretation of planning conditions;
  • The meaning of “development” under s.55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. 

Flora is currently instructed to represent a landowner in an appeal against the refusal by a local planning authority to grant a CLEUD for the equestrian use of a field. 

Flora assisted Mark Westmoreland Smith in an inquiry concerning a housing development in Hartley, Tunbridge Wells. The inquiry raised a number of issues, including:
•    The appropriateness of development within the AONB; 
•    Landscape matters;
•    Harm to heritage assets;
•    Highway matters;
•    Five-year housing land supply.

Flora assisted Ned Westaway in drafting a response to a pre-action protocol letter concerning the use of military barracks as accommodation for asylum seekers. 

Flora shadowed Richard Honey QC during the Court of Appeal hearing of Gladman Developments Ltd v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [2021] EWCA Civ 104, concerning the interpretation of the “tilted balance” at paragraph 11(d)(ii) of the NPPF 2019. Flora also attended the Court of Appeal hearing of DB Symmetry Ltd v Swindon BC [2020] EWCA Civ 1331, concerning the interpretation of the word “highway” in a planning condition. 

Flora has assisted in the drafting of advice concerning a range of planning matters such as the definition of “development” under s.55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the engagement of Article 6 ECHR in the planning context, and permitted development rights contained in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. 

Environmental Law

Flora has a keen interest in developing an environmental law practice. She has gained experience in a variety of environmental matters during pupillage, including:

  • Habitats directive and regulations;
  • Environmental impact assessments;
  • Strategic environmental assessment. 

Flora assisted Ned Westaway in drafting advice on whether or not an appropriate assessment is required for the grant of licences for bottom-towed fishing in offshore marine protected areas.  

Flora also assisted in the drafting of advice on whether or not the redevelopment of a housing estate had been “salami sliced” in order to avoid carrying out an EIA, and the definition of a “plan or project” for the purposes of the SEA Regulations. 

Public Law

During pupillage Flora has gained experience of judicial reviews and statutory challenges, and is interested in developing a broad public law practice. 

She has experience drafting advice and pleadings in cases concerning the application of the Human Rights Act 1998. She assisted in drafting submissions for a remedies hearing following a successful judicial review, in which the following issues were raised:

  • Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • The interpretation of legislation in a convention-compliant manner under s.3 of the HRA 1998;
  • Declarations of incompatibility under s.4 of the HRA 1998;
  • Whether a provision of the GPDO amounted to an ouster clause.

Flora assisted Mark Westmoreland Smith in drafting a skeleton argument for the Office of Nuclear Regulation in a judicial review claim relating to the designation of a detailed emergency planning zone around an atomic weapons facility, under the Regulation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2019. 

Infrastructure

Flora has gained experience in cases involving the interpretation of the Planning Act 2008, the independent examination process for development consent orders, and the interpretation of national policy statements. 

Flora has assisted in conducting research into the application of sections 104 and 105 of the Planning Act 2008. She has also drafted advice on whether or not the Secretary of State can return an application for a development consent order to an examining authority after it has closed its examination. 

Flora shadowed Mark Westmoreland Smith in the Court of Appeal hearing of R (oao ClientEarth) v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy [2021] EWC Civ 43, which concerned the interpretation of National Policy Statements for Energy EN-1 and EN2 and the interpretation of s.104(7) of the Planning Act 2008.  

Local Government

Flora undertook research into the process for making and confirming tree preservation orders under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012. 

Flora also assisted in the drafting of advice on whether or not a traffic regulation order made by a local authority had been correctly signed pursuant to the Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996. 

Plan-Making

Flora assisted Ned Westaway in drafting an objection to the inclusion of a policy in the Halton Borough Council draft Delivery and Allocations Local Plan, which proposes to allocate land for a runway extension at Liverpool John Lennon Airport. The objection questioned the Council’s justification for releasing Green Belt Land, and the soundness of the Council’s approach to the climate change impacts of the extension. 

Licensing

Flora undertook research for Gary Grant and James Rankin on the scope of the public sector equality duty on licensing sub-committees when considering the revocation of premises licences.  

Compulsory Purchase/Compensation

Flora has assisted in drafting advice on a range of compulsory purchase and compensation matters, such as: 

  • The level of compensation payable for the compulsory purchase of land by HS2;
  • The applicability of the Bishopsgate principle;
  • The limits to compensation where land has been used unlawfully; and 
  • The date at which compensation should be determined.

Flora assisted in drafting submissions objecting to the confirmation of a compulsory purchase order on behalf of the owner and operator of a combined cycle gas power station. The objection was on the basis that the order would prevent the owner from retaining land which was required by a licence condition to be retained for the future installation of a carbon capture plant. 

Rights of Way and Highways

Flora shadowed Ned Westaway in the Court of Appeal hearing of Open Spaces Society v Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [2021] EWCA Civ 241, which concerned whether the factors set out at s.119(6)(a) to (c) of the Highways Act 1980 were the only matters that could be considered by an inspector deciding whether it was expedient to confirm the diversion of a footpath. 

Flora has also assisted in the drafting of advice on the scope of the right to enter onto access land for open air recreation, under s.2(1) of the Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000. 

Rating

Flora shadowed Mark Westmoreland Smith in the hearing of Southwark LBC v Ludgate House Ltd [2020] EWCA 1637 in the Court of Appeal. 

Flora assisted in the drafting of advice relating to the rateable value of a museum, and whether an invalidity notice had been properly served by the Valuation Office Agency. 
 

Qualifications

  • City, University of London, Bar Professional Training Course (Very Competent) (2019)
  • City, University of London, Graduate Diploma in Law (Distinction) (2018)
  • St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge, MPhil in Early Modern History (Distinction) (2017)
  • University of Edinburgh, MA in History (First) (2016) 
     

Scholarships and Awards

  • EFTA Court Scholarship (Lincoln’s Inn) (2019)
  • Thomas More Scholarship (Lincoln’s Inn) (2018)
  • Lady Katherine Barnardiston Scholarship (St Catharine’s College) (2018)
  • College Award (St Catharine’s College) (2018)
     

Other Experience

Before commencing pupillage, Flora spent four months as a trainee in the cabinet of Judge Bernd Hammermann at the Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Association. She gained experience in cases relating to the application of EEA law in various different areas.

Flora volunteered with the School Exclusion Project for two years, during which time she represented the parents of permanently excluded schoolchildren at school disciplinary hearings and local authority review panels. She also volunteered as a caseworker with Advocate. Flora volunteers as a mentor for the Bridging the Bar scheme. 

Immediately prior to starting pupillage, Flora spent three months volunteering as a research assistant to Professor Meg Russell, Director of the UCL Constitution Unit, conducting research into Brexit, parliament, and parliamentary sovereignty. 

Flora was a finalist and semi-finalist in a number of mooting competitions such as the McKay Cup Canadian Law Mooting Competition, the LSE-Featherstone Moot, and the City University GDL Moot.
 

Memberships

UKELA
ALBA

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