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    "She is someone who is very straightforward to work with, a good team player and a deep thinker about the cases."

    Chambers and Partners, Suzanne Ornsby QC

Suzanne Ornsby QC

Suzanne Ornsby QC

Year of call: 1986 (QC 2012)

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

Suzanne Ornsby QC

Practice Profile

Suzanne Ornsby QC is a highly proficient public, planning and environmental lawyer with wide experience of acting for utilities, multinationals, planning authorities, action groups and individuals. She is regularly involved in statutory challenges and judicial reviews as well as promoting or opposing major proposals relating to water and electricity supply, minerals and waste, together with commercial and residential schemes including those affecting the built heritage. She is consistently recognised as a leader in this specialist field of work in the Legal 500, Legal Experts and in Chambers and Partners in which she is described as  "An excellent advocate...who is able to marshal complex legal arguments in a palatable and convincing style, and achieves successful results", possesses a "rigorous and meticulous style", gives "great commercial advice and is a delight to work with" as well as being "a highly proficient inquiry advocate at the planning bar".

Suzanne states that "whilst nothing in this life is guaranteed and certainly not in planning litigation"  her main objective is "to ensure that I completely understand the client's objectives so as to place that client in the best possible position to achieve those objectives through deployment of the most effective legal tools available, in the most cost effective way".


    • "An excellent advocate...who is able to marshal complex legal arguments in a palatable and convincing style, and achieves successful results." The Legal 500

    • "Rigorous and meticulous style" The Legal 500

    •  "A highly proficient inquiry advocate at the planning bar". The Legal 500

    • "Great commercial advice and is a delight to work with" The Legal 500


    Planning and Environmental


    Suzanne has extensive experience in promoting and opposing residential schemes ranging from major urban extensions to small niche developments. She acts for both National Housebuilders and small developers  and numerous local planning authorities. Her advice is extensively sought from both the private and public sector on the effect of the 2011 planning legislation, including the duty to co operate, Neighbourhood Planning, the National Planning Policy Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance. She recently successfully appeared for the Local Planning Authority in the first case to reach the Court of Appeal on Neighbourhood Planning. She has appeared at numerous Core Strategy and Local Plan examinations and major section 78 appeals concerned with major housing extensions and is particularly familiar with five year housing land supply assessments. She also regularly provides advice on section 106 contributions, their interrelation with CIL, as well as the vexed issue of viability and affordable housing.  She also provides advice and appears at inquiries into proposals for replacement dwellings in the countryside and extensions to such dwellings. She has been appointed as an Independent Planning Counsel under the provisions of the Arbitration Act 1996 in contractual disputes over residential development. 


    Suzanne has substantial experience, in the public and private sector, of different types of commercial development including Class B uses, residential care, minerals and waste development. She has appeared, successfully, for a developer at an inquiry into the redevelopment of a prominent site in the city centre of Bristol to accommodate a landmark, tall building for B1 and retail and restaurant use. Suzanne also acts for operators of residential care homes and has extensive experience of conversion and expansion of buildings for residential care. She acts for minerals and waste operators, including LafargeTarmac and Cemex.  She  has acted on numerous major  urban extensions which have included a significant element of commercial and retail floor space as well as acting for the Co-Op. She also appeared at the inquiry into a proposal for the first all weather racecourse in the UK in the green belt in Essex designed by Norman Foster. She also acts for niche retailers such as Bill's.

    The Built Heritage

    Since Suzanne commenced practice at the Planning and Environmental Bar she has been extensively involved in proposals that affect the built heritage. She acted for English Heritage at a major inquiry involving the demolition of a large block of buildings on Baker Street which tested the implications of the old PPG15, for English Heritage on the test case on the Battlefields Register, for Westminster City Council in respect of the "Spectacolour" sign in Piccadilly Circus and for developers in connection with a highly controversial scheme in the Clifton Conservation Area, in Bristol, for two neoclassical town houses designed by Robert Adam, architectural adviser to Prince Charles. She has acted for interested parties in connection with Garsington Opera and in relation proposals that affected a listed building previously owned by Agatha Christie. She also has extensive experience of proposals to convert listed buildings to alternative uses, for Tall Buildings adjacent to conservation areas and listed buildings. She has acted for the London Fire Brigade in relation to the redevelopment of a listed fire station and for a charity concerning supported living accommodation for adults with learning disabilities in a conservation area.


    Suzanne has extensive experience in infrastructure. Before Suzanne practiced at the Planning and Environmental Bar and prior to the break up of the Electricity Supply Industry she worked as an in house barrister for the CEGB where she gained substantial knowledge about the operation of the electricity supply industry, including nuclear power, and acted for the CEGB at the Hinkley C inquiries held in 1988/89. Since re-joining the Bar in 1990 she has acted for National Power and National Grid. Suzanne also acts extensively for the water supply industry. She successfully, appeared for Thames Water at the major inquiry held into the UK's first desalination plant now built at Beckton on the Thames and appeared for Thames Water at the major and controversial inquiry held into its Water Resources Management Plan. She continues to advise on water resources management planning and Drought Orders. She advises on the implications of the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004, the Habitats Assessment Regulations 2010 and the Water Framework Directive. Suzanne has acted for North Somerset District Council on proposals to expand Bristol Airport and the Avon Docks, both of which are in the green belt. She has lectured and advised extensively on the Planning Act 2008 for major infrastructure projects, National Policy Statements, the implications of strategic environmental assessment and the requirements for consultation.


    Planning and environmental

    Suzanne has extensive experience of regulatory matters and practiced for a time at the Criminal Bar. She has appeared at numerous enforcement inquiries, statutory challenges and judicial reviews relating to enforcement action as well as environmental prosecutions. She has advised and appeared on issues relating to environmental nuisance including injunctive relief, abatement notices and criminal prosecutions covering matters such as vibration, caused through blasting at a quarry, noise generated by aircraft and motor racing and damage to listed buildings.

    Suzanne acted for two major sand and gravel operators at the first inquiry held in the UK into dues charged by a harbour authority on sand and gravel dredgers under the Harbours Act 1964. She appeared for the Lake District National Park Authority at the inquiry into its proposal to reduce the speed limit on Lake Windermere.  

    Suzanne has also acted for major student accommodation providers in respect of the houses in multiple occupation licensing regime.

    Compulsory Purchase and Compensation

    Suzanne also has experience of compulsory purchase and compensation. She has appeared at inquiries into compulsory purchase orders including for National Grid relating to a compulsory purchase order for a bypass that affected one of its gas pipes. She also advises on compensation including certificates of alternative development and sterilisation of minerals.  Suzanne is a member of the Compulsory Purchase Association.

    Professional Negligence

    Suzanne has advised both insurers and individuals on numerous occasions on professional negligence on planning matters the majority of which settle prior to court action. However she did appear for the successful party in Motorcrown Petroleum Ltd one of the leading cases on professional negligence in the planning context.

    Recent Cases

    A sample of Suzanne's cases include:


    • South Gloucestershire Council-v-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government AZ CA
      Section 288 challenge to inspector's decision relating to five year supply, application of Sedgefield and Liverpool approach in context of recently adopted Core Strategy and interpretation of the NPPF and NPPG
    • South Gloucestershire Council-v-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Simon Steele-Perkins
      Section 288 challenge to Inspector's decision in respect of application of Core Strategy policy and NPPF outside settlement boundary and whether policy out of date
    • R-v-Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum ex parte Wycombe District Council and Taylor Wimpey CA
      Judicial Review of  a failure  to include two strategic sites in a Neighbourhood Planning Area
    • University of Bristol-v-North Somerset District Council
      Section 113 statutory challenge to Core Strategy on the basis of failure to comply with the duty to co-operate, failure to give adequate reasons and failure of general conformity.
    • Bloor Homes - v-South Gloucestershire Council
      Major housing proposal. Five year housing land supply and landscape impact
    • Bill's - v-Bristol City Council
      Bristol City Centre. Change of use from shop to restaurant
    • Inland Homes Ltd-v-Chiltern District Council
      Housing development including listed public house, loss of community facility, viability and design
    • Core Strategies and Local Plans
      Bristol Central Area Plan
      Oxford City Council Northern Gateway Area Action Plan
      South Oxfordshire Core Strategy
      South Gloucestershire Core Strategy
    • ATA Estates (Longwell Green) LLP-v-South Gloucestershire Council
      Housing scheme in the green belt. Housing requirement, the five year supply and very special circumstances
    • Strategic Land Partnerships-v-South Gloucestershire Council
      Housing scheme and issue of highway impact.
    • Wates Development Ltd-v-South Oxfordshire District Council.
    •  Major housing proposal. Five year housing supply, impact on landscape and listed building.
    • JSBloor and Hallam Land Ltd-v-South Oxfordshire District Council
      Major Housing proposal. Five year housing supply.
    • Fairview New Homes Ltd-v-Wycombe District Council
      Redevelopment of University site for 106 houses. Application of affordable housing and design policies. Five year housing supply.
    • Jenkins-v-South Gloucestershire Council
      Curtilage development of lake with island, gymnasium, tennis court, games room, triple garage, workshop, summer house, and swimming pool.
    • Edenlaw ltd-v-Bristol City Council
      Tall building to contain B1, A1 and A3 uses. Application of Tall Buildings and Design policies. Impact on adjacent listed buildings and conservation area.
    • South Oxfordshire District Council-v-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
      Section 113 challenge to South East Plan to quash urban extension to the south of Oxford due to failure to comply with the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004.


    • Thames Water Utilities Ltd-v-Environment Agency
      Major inquiry into Thames Water's Water Resources Management plan
    • Thames Water Utilities Ltd-v-Mayor of London
      Major inquiry into UK'S first desalination plant on River Thames


    • Devon County Council-v-National Grid.
      CPO inquiry into extension of the A380 and Kingskerswell bypass.


    • R-v-Bristol City Council ex parte Digs
      Judicial Review by major student accommodation provider concerning interpretation of meaning of house in multiple occupation in context of prosecution of large student accommodation provider.

    • Tarmac and United Marine Dredging Ltd-v-Langstone Harbour Board.
      Inquiry into dues imposed under the Harbours Act 1964.

    Professional Membership

    Suzanne is a member, and previous secretary, to the Planning and Environment Bar Association, a member of UKELA, the Administrative Law Bar Association, the Compulsory Purchase Association and the Health and Safety Lawyers Association. She is a trained advocacy instructor for the Middle Temple.

    For a more comprehensive discussion of Suzanne Ornsby's experience please contact James Kemp on  020 7427 1846.

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