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    "She can get a very good grip of the issues, understand her brief clearly and be extremely thorough." "She is particularly good on detail and gives particularly forensic analysis."

    Chambers and Partners 2021, Melissa Murphy

Melissa Murphy


Year of call: 2001

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

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Melissa Murphy

Practice Profile

Melissa specialises in compulsory purchase and compensation; planning; and associated property, contract and administrative law matters. She is rated as a leading junior, in both Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500. She has climbed the rankings in the annual Planning Magazine survey' and is one of the ''top rated juniors'' in the 2021 edition. 

  •     "Particularly impressive and starting to get the recognition she deserves."  Legal 500, 2022

  • "She can get a very good grip of the issues, understand her brief clearly and be extremely thorough." "She is particularly good on detail and gives particularly forensic analysis."
    Chambers and Partners, 2021

  •  "She is excellent, very patient and forensic and hard-working." Legal 500 2021,

  • "She is very forceful, sticks to her guns and really does her best to represent her clients"  Chambers and Partners, 2020

  • "She is very hard-working and has a prodigious memory and capacity for detail"  Chambers and Partners, 2020

  • "Thorough, committed and enthusiastic", Legal 500, 2020

  • "Gives clear and robust advice with a good understanding of the commercial drivers in any case."  Chambers and Partners, 2019

  • "She is excellent, tenacious and very good with clients."  Chambers and Partners, 2019

  • "A very technically bright junior with a great understanding of the law who produces a very high standard of work."  Chambers and Partners, 2018

  • "She anticipates the unexpected, is very measured and considered, and has very good relationships with solicitors."   Chambers and Partners, 2018

  • "Recommended for compulsory purchase orders."  Legal 500, 2018

  • "A real pragmatist.  Especially on planning inquiries, she is very, very persuasive."  Chambers and Partners, 2017

  • "Very pleasant and approachable, she has a detailed knowledge of the environmental aspects of planning in particular."  Chambers and Partners, 2017

  • "She is technically excellent, has a quick grasp of the issues and is very user-friendly." Chambers and Partners, 2015

  • "Melissa Murphy maintains a strong presence in the planning arena, handling compulsory purchase, compensation and administrative law matters for clients.'' Chambers and Partners, 2014

  • "A stong advocate for promoting tricky compulsory purchase order matters." The Legal 500, 2014"A stong advocate for promoting tricky compulsory purchase order matters." The Legal 500, 2014

  • "Fighter" Melissa Murphy ''doesn't give up - which is not quite as common at the Planning Bar as it should be.'' Chambers and Partners, 2013

  • ''...earmarked as one of the rising stars amidst the younger generation at the Bar.'' Chambers and Partners, 2009

  • "Experienced in CPO inquiries." Chambers and Partners, 2015

  • "She is clear, methodical and gives good reliable advice." Chambers and Partners, 2015

  • "She's proactive, gives clear advice and is good at meeting deadlines'' Chambers and Partners, 2014

  •  "Her busy year saw her acting as junior to Simon Bird QC on the Pinewood Studios case, as well as receiving instructions to resist the making of the Salford Central CPO."Chambers and Partners, 2013

  • "She also "has the ability to make sure a team focuses on the real issues." Chambers and Partners, 2013



CPO and Compensation
Infrastructure / Parliamentary
Administrative/Public Law


Melissa is recognised as one of the leading juniors at the planning Bar, specialising in planning and related matters. She is tech savvy, with experience of remote hearings & operating a paperless practice.

Planning: property & contracts

With extensive experience in advising on procurement, development agreements, s.106 planning obligations and other contract renegotiations and disputes, Melissa is well placed to offer prompt, robust and practical advice to her clients. She has particular expertise in relation to complex viability assessments & the implications of delay. Recent experience includes:

  • Riverside Energy Park. Melissa represented the Western Riverside Waste Authority, in a Development Consent Order compulsory acquisition case, relying on intricate quasi-PFI contractual arrangements to object to the acquisition. 
  • Barnet Council – s.106 and traffic management.
  • Southwark. In a long running multi-phased estate regeneration project, the development agreement & s.106 planning obligation were highly scrutinised within the CPO process. 


  • Advice to EDF in relation to the proposed Sizewell C Development Consent Order application. 
  • Heathrow - Melissa was instructed as a junior to Craig Howell Williams Q.C. in relation to the Heathrow Airport Limited Cranford appeal.
  • Manston Airport - with Suzanne Ornsby Q.C. Melissa was instructed by Bircham Dyson Bell to appear at an appeal inquiry on behalf of RiverOak Strategic Partners (promoters of the airport).
  • HS2 - Melissa acted for Hillingdon in its test case judicial review in relation to Schedule 17 of the new HS2 Act: Hillingdon’s challenge succeeded in the Court of Appeal. HS2 has sought permission to bring an appeal to the Supreme Court. 
  • HS2 petitioning & HS2 accommodation works instructions. Melissa advised local authorities along the route & presented in Parliament. 

Housing and mixed use developments

  • Westferry Printworks. 1,500 unit London redevelopment scheme - planning inquiry. Impact on setting of Tower Bridge & complex viability. Paul Brown QC for the applicant. Melissa represented Mayor/GLA. Melissa’s team focused on viability and heritage. Inspector agreed with objections & recommended refusal. The SofS disagreed. GLA & Council challenged and the decision was quashed by consent (appeal to be re-determined). 
  • Bramshill. Challenge to decision refusing consent for the redevelopment of Grade I listed building & grounds (following inquiry in 2017-18). Melissa represented The National Trust throughout. Its objection succeeded as did its defence of the decision in High Court (with the SofS and Historic England). The Court of Appeal is to hear City & Country’s appeal in December 2020. 
  • VIP Industrial Estate/VIP Trading. Large scale London mixed use (771 unit housing, plus employment): inquiry. Melissa appeared for Royal Borough of Greenwich, with a junior (Caroline Daly), objecting to the proposals. Outcome awaited. 
  • Promoting and resisting major residential and mixed use developments. Melissa has promoted the Aylesbury Estate redevelopment scheme for Southwark Council (see the Compulsory Purchase experience section for further details). As part of large multi-disciplinary teams, Melissa has also been instructed in relation to a new neighbourhood for Crawley; and 1,900 dwellings in the Green Belt proposed by Pinewood Studios.
  • Numerous instructions in relation to housing in the countryside (in Wales and in England), involving consideration of the adequacy of the 5 year housing land supply; affordable housing and viability; heritage issues; and impact on the landscape.
  • Experience of appeals concerning housing for the elderly, including residential care homes. 
  • Significant experience of resisting development including housing in the Green Belt (on behalf of local authorities and third parties).
  • Strategic advice dealing with the promotion of sites for housing through the local plan process, including substantial experience of dealing with Green Belt / AONB matters.

Employment/mixed use/retail

  • Various inquiries concerning the retention of employment land where higher value uses are proposed. For example, the development of a hotel on employment land in Norwich; the development of a Circle promoted private hospital in Test Valley; and logistics development on sites allocated for other employment purposes.
  • Part of a team promoting significant mixed use development in Polegate, East Sussex.
  • Strategic advice to Norwich City Council as landowner in relation to the promotion of a major mixed use development in its area.
  • Repeat instructions from Sainsbury's - including a rights of way inquiry to facilitate a store expansion on the Isle of Wight.


  • Melissa's clients include The National Trust, but she is also happy to advise and represent much smaller organisations in relation to heritage matters.
  • Particular expertise in relation to appeals concerning listed buildings and registered parks and gardens.

Regulatory: planning & crime

  • Unusually for a planning specialist, Melissa accepts Crown Court instructions. Her practice includes a substantial component of regulatory criminal work: she has both prosecuted and defended in the criminal courts, in relation to listed building and planning enforcement prosecutions.  She has also appeared in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) twice recently. Most notably, she successfully defended the decision of a Crown Court judge to stay a prosecution brought by a London Borough.
  • Melissa has undertaken numerous inquiries concerning the impact of development on listed buildings and the character and appearance of conservation areas.


  • Melissa has a particular interest in the interrelationship of domestic and EU law. Given that interest, she has regularly conducted seminars addressing sustainability and environmental assessment, including the implications of Brexit, to private and public sector audiences
  • Melissa advises developers and local authorities in relation to the adequacy of assessments at both a strategic and site level. 

Local plans

  • Advice and representation in relation to local plans
  • Melissa has appeared at numerous local plan examinations, for the most part as one of a team promoting the plan, but she has also appeared for objectors. Most recently, Melissa helped Westminster City Council with its City Plan examination, providing a blend of advice and representation. 

Planning enforcement

Melissa is well versed in planning enforcement matters. She has frequently appeared at public inquiries in relation to s.174 appeals, concerning a wide range of development, from Gypsy sites, to stables for polo ponies, to residential development in a national park. She has had considerable success in dealing with enforcement notice prosecutions.

Statutory challenges


The majority of Melissa's public/administrative law practice is linked to her other specialist practice areas:
See, for example:

  • R. (On the application of Hillingdon Council) v. SST, SSHCLG [2019] 12 WLUK 425. Court of Appeal judgment: [2020] EWCA Civ 1005. 
  • City & Country (Bramshill) Limited v. SSHCGL and others inc National Trust [2019] 12 WLUK 237. City & Country’s appeal will  be heard in the Court of Appeal in December 2020. 
  • R. v. (1) Knightland Foundation (2) Friedman [2018] EWCA Crim 1860
  • Hargrave House Limited v. Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court [2018] EWHC 279 (Admin)
  • R. (on the application of Sainsbury's Supermarkets Limited) v. Hillingdon LBC [2015] EWHC 2571 (Admin)
  • Delaney v. SSCLG [2013] EWCA Civ 585 (High Court: [2012] EWHC 1303)
  • LB Hillingdon v. SSCLG [2012] EWHC 1557
  • Chetwynd v. South Norfolk DC [2010] EWHC 1070
  • Taylor Wimpey v. Crawley Borough Council [2008] EWHC 2644
  • Thompson v. Secretary of State [2004] EWHC 1492 (Admin)


Melissa is one of the few juniors at the planning bar with substantial experience of proceedings concerning major infrastructure projects.

Here are some good examples:

  • Development Consent Order work - advice to EDF in relation to the proposed Sizewell C DCO application (with Hereward Phillpot Q.C.)
  • Parliamentary proceedings - HS2 - Melissa appeared before the HS2 Select Committee and advised on representations to the Committee. 
  • Public inquiry work - Heathrow - Melissa and Craig Howell Williams Q.C. appeared on behalf of the Mayor of London, Hillingdon LBC and Hounslow LBC in the Heathrow Airport Limited Cranford appeal inquiry.
  • Lands Chamber (compulsory purchase compensation) - Thameslink - Melissa has been instructed by Eversheds on behalf of Network Rail to deal with compensation issues arising from the Thameslink project.
  • Transport and Works Act 1992 proceedings re the Network Rail (Hitchin (Cambridge Junction)) Order inquiry, other TWAO work includes accommodation works for HS2; she has also dealt with CPO (highways), including for Cambridgeshire County Council.
  • Strategic advice to local authorities in relation to infrastructure projects.


Melissa has attracted particular attention for her strength in promoting "tricky compulsory purchase orders".  She is interested in and enjoys CPO work, with notable success in relation to the recent successful promotion of the Aylesbury Estate CPO, a controversial estate regeneration scheme in Southwark.  She is presently advising on other estate regeneration proposals. In addition to town and country planning CPOs, she has also advised in relation to CPOs under the Highways and Housing Acts. As part of her major CPO/planning inquiry work, Melissa was part of a team representing Schroders and Stanhope plc, objecting successfully to Croydon Council's controversial proposals at the Croydon Gateway site.

Recent clients include:

  • Southwark Council (Aylesbury Estate)
  • Basildon Council (Craylands Estate)
  • Cambridge County Council (A605)
  • Ralli Solicitors (Salford Central)
  • Ceredigion County Council (Aberystwyth town centre)


Melissa has considerable experience of disputes relating to compulsory purchase compensation. She has been instructed in Lands Tribunal proceedings by the London Development Agency, Dover District Council, Essex County Council and Kent County Council, as well as by private individuals.

Her work has included detailed consideration of matters such as valuation of the land taken; compensation for severance, injurious affection and disturbance; mitigation, betterment, planning assumptions and the application of statutory disregards and Point Gourde (on which she has lectured to both public and private sector audiences); and costs.
She appeared in the Lands Tribunal in the following reported cases:

  • Scotia Plastic Binding Limited (in administration) v. LDA [2010] RVR 307
  • Essex Showground v. Essex County Council [2006] RVR 336

Much compensation work, of course, is directed to ensuring that a negotiated outcome is achieved and often advisory work is all that is required. Recent instructions include advice to a private sector client, as junior to Michael Humphries Q.C.


Melissa advises on and appears in cases concerning public and administrative law matters, principally those with a planning/compulsory purchase focus.

Recent cases include:

  • R. (On the application of Hillingdon Council) v. SST, SSHCLG [2019] 12 WLUK 425. Court of Appeal judgment: [2020] EWCA Civ 1005. 
  • City & Country (Bramshill) Limited v. SSHCGL and others inc National Trust [2019] 12 WLUK 237. City & Country’s appeal will be heard in the Court of Appeal in December 2020. 
  • R. v. (1) Knightland Foundation (2) Friedman [2018] EWCA Crim 1860
  • Hargrave House Limited v. Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court [2018] EWHC 279 (Admin)
  • R. (on the application of Sainsbury's Supermarkets Limited) v. Hillingdon LBC [2015] EWHC 2571 (Admin)

Professional Associations

Melissa is a member of the following professional bodies:

  • Planning and Environment Bar Association (former committee member)
  • Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association
  • Compulsory Purchase Association
  • National Infrastructure Planning Association