James is ranked as one of the top silks in this field by the Legal 500, Chambers and Partners and Planning magazine. The Legal 500 shortlisted him for Silk of the Year for Real Estate, Environment and Planning in 2016, 2017 and 2019. The Directories describe him as "calm, authoritative and a dogged advocate", "a genuine star", "a pleasure to work with", "a very astute operator who never disappoints on the day" and "a very persuasive man to put in front of a High Court Judge."
His practice as an inquiry advocate is underpinned by frequent appearances in the High Court and his opinion is regularly sought on a range of advisory matters. His expertise covers all areas of planning, including promoting and resisting compulsory purchase orders.
James is in demand as a speaker on planning matters and has addressed both the Oxford Planning Conference and the PEBA Annual Conference.
Below are selected examples of some of James’s experience. More detail about particular areas of work can be provided on request.
Local plans and Strategic Planning:
- Chalgrove Airfield, Oxfordshire – advising Homes England on promotion of c.3,500 new homes, involving an emerging allocation, CPO and major planning application.
- Welborne, Hampshire – advising promotor, c.6,000 new homes.
- Gatwick Green, Crawley – advising promotor of c. 59ha land for allocation for employment development.
- Garlic’s Arch, Guildford – advising promotor, successful housing allocation c.550 homes.
- Epping Forest Plan – successful objections on behalf of the Forest Conservators, leading to suspension of plan on Habitats Regulation grounds.
Planning appeals and call-in inquiries
- Quadrant, Guildford – tall building proposal for student accommodation in central Guildford.
- Lowfield Heath, Crawley – off airport parking for Gatwick Airport.
- Fetcham Park, Surrey - successful enforcement appeal for wedding functions in a Grade 2* listed building.
- Broadland Housing Association, Norfolk - successfully acted in appeal for housing and substantial care home facilities.
- West Parade, Worthing - substantial seafront residential tower.
- Homebase, Cwmbran - acting for the Prudential, successfully resisted proposals for out of centre retail development.
- Eltham Common, Greenwich - successfully securing consent for a MUGA on Eltham Common.
- Butts Lane, Thurrock; Newton Leys, Aylesbury: call-in appeals for urban housing extensions.
- Stansted G2 project - one of the team of Counsel promoting the planning applications for the second runway, additional facilities, and off-setting measures on behalf of BAA Ltd and Stansted Airport Limited.
- Arundel Great Court, Westminster - instructed by Westminster City Council to resist proposals for major redevelopment in this historically sensitive location near Somerset House and affecting views of St Paul's Cathedral.
- Rivenhall Airfield, Essex - instructed by the waste planning authority for a call-in inquiry into proposals for large waste recycling and industrial development.
- Turweston Aerodrome, Buckinghamshire: Counsel for Aylesbury Vale DC in two long running enforcement and section 78 inquiries concerning the expansion of Turweston Aerodrome.
- Brogborough Landfill, Bedfordshire: successfully defending the waste planning authority's refusal of planning permission for an extension to one of the largest landfill sites in Europe.
- Promoting minerals, waste and general development plans.
- Numerous smaller-scale inquiries covering a wide range of planning subject matter.
- R (Shirley) v Secretary of State  EWCA Civ 22 – acting for the successful planning authority in an appeal concerning EU air quality standards and planning.
- Canterbury City Council v Secretary of State  EWHC 1211 (Admin) – on the exercise of discretion for failure to carry out an appropriate assessment under the Habitats Directive.
- R (Scarsbrick) v Secretary of State  EWCA Civ 787 - successful defence to grant of development consent order.
- R (Piffs Elm Ltd) v Tewkesbury BC  EWHC 3248 (Admin) - on apparent bias and remedial discretion.
- Holiday Extras v Crawley BC  EWHC 3247 (Admin) - challenge to adoption of development plan on Strategic Environmental Assessment grounds.
- R (Scarsbrick) v SSCLG  EWHC 715 (Admin) - interpretation of national waste policy.
- South Oxfordshire DC v SSCLG  EWHC 1173 (Admin) - successful defence to planning permission involving housing supply issues.
- Ashdown Forest Economic Development Corporation v Wealden DC  Env LR D1 - successful defence to adoption of development plan involving Habitats and Strategic Environmental Assessment issues.
- R (ota Save Britain’s Heritage) v Gateshead MBC  EWHC 896 (Admin) - successful defence of challenge to grant of planning permission.
- Forest of Dean Friends of the Earth v Forest of Dean Council  Env LR 3 – successful defence of adopted development plan involving Habitats and SEA issues.
- R (Lyon) v Cambridgeshire City Council  Env LR 11 - successful defence of planning permission involving EIA issues
- R (Warley) v Wealden DC  Env LR 4 - successful challenge to screening opinion.
- R (Griffin) v Tower Hamlets LBC  EWHC 53 - successful defence of flight increases at London City Airport
- R (Brown) v Carlisle City Council  EWCA Civ 523 - salami slicing and EIA development.
- Williams v Herefordshire Council  Divisional Court - on the scope of the 'non-owner' offence of not complying with a planning enforcement notice.
- R (Ardagh) v Chester City Council  EWCA Civ 172 - on the validity of retrospective planning permissions for EIA development.
- R (Wye Valley Action Group) v Herefordshire Council (2010) Env LR 18 - on the requirement for EIA of polytunnel development
- Barbone v Secretary of State  EWHC 463 (Admin), a successful defence of Stansted G1 planning permission; correct approach to national policy statements.
- R (Ardagh Glass Ltd) v Chester City Council  EWHC 745 (Admin), a successful application for mandatory order compelling local planning authority to take enforcement action.
- Hobson v Secretary of State  EWHC 981 (Admin), on enlargement of dwellings in the Green Belt.
- R (Smith) v Cotswold DC  EWCA, on reasons for the grant of planning permission.
- R (Condron) v National Assembly for Wales  BLGR 87 (CA), on the test for apparent bias in the grant of planning permission.
- South Beds v Price  JPL 1805 (CA); Times 22 May 2006, on the relevance of circular 1/2006 on Gypsies and Planning to existing injunctions against Gypsies.
- R (Noble) v Thanet District Council (2006) Env LR 8, a challenge to a planning permission based upon the duty to take remedial action under EU law.
- R (Wall) v Brighton and Hove  JPL 807, the first case on the duty to give reasons for a grant of planning permission under the GPDO.