Douglas Edwards KC practices in the fields of town and country planning, infrastructure, compulsory purchase, environment, administrative and local government, highway law and the law of easements and restrictive covenants.
He is acknowledged as one of the leading silks at the planning bar and a recognised expert in the law relating to common land and town/village greens.
He appears regularly for both appellants and local planning and other authorities at inquiries and in the courts.
Douglas Edwards was elected a bencher of Lincoln's Inn in 2017, and is a member of the Inn's Estates Committee.
He was appointed as a Crown Court Recorder in 2019, and, as such, sits as a Judge in courts in London and on the South Eastern Circuit.
He has served as an assistant Parliamentary boundary commissioner and as lead assistant commissioner for the East Midlands region. In that capacity, his role has involved holding hearing and considering representations into proposals to modify Parliamentary constituency boundaries.
Douglas Edwards KC's planning practice has engaged a wide range of issues over the few last years, including major retail schemes, housing development, development of docks and proposed tall buildings. Examples of recent inquiries into planning appeals in which Douglas has been involved include:
- UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre (2020-2021) - represented Westminster City Council at the public inquiry, held in late 2020, in respect of the highly controversial proposal for a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre at Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament.
- South Kensington Station Redevelopment (2023) - representing RBKC at the public inquiry into the extensive proposals for redevelopment at and around South Kensington Underground Station
- Hinxton Agritech (2020) – represented South Cambridgeshire Council a length public inquiry to defend its refusal of planning permission for a large Agritech business part on land adjacent to the Hinxton Gnome Campus in South Cambridgeshire.
- Citroen Site Redevelopment (2020) – represented the Mayor of London at public inquiry follow the Government’s decision to call in his decision to grant planning permission for a large scale residential development, including a series of tall buildings, on the site of the Citroen site, Chiswick. The inquiry involved sensitive issues concerning impact on the Kew Gardens World Heritage Site.
- Crossrail Station, Farringdon (2019) - appeared for TfL at public inquiry into a successful appeal in respect of proposals for large office-led over-station development at new Crossrail station, east of Smithfield Market, London;
- Stonehill Industrial Estate, Enfield (2019) - appeared for HSBC Pension Trustees and LaSalle Investment at a lengthy public inquiry into successful appeal into proposals for large scale regeneration for B-class development of Strategic Industrial Estate in Enfield;
- City Airport - appeared for Mayor of London into public inquiry into his refusal to grant planning permission for expansion of London City Airport;
- Shell Centre, London - represented Mayor of London and Lambeth LBC in respect of proposal for large scale redevelopment at Shell Centre on London's South Bank; also represented Mayor and Lambeth in High Court and Court of Appeal proceedings which followed;
- Parc Tawe Retail Park, Swansea - represented local planning authority at inquiry into proposals concerning large retail park at edge of centre location;
- Instructed to advise Mayor of London on recovered strategic planning applications for (a) Convoys Wharf, Deptford, (b) City Forum, Islington and (c) Mount Pleasant Post Office;
- Kirkstall Retail Park - Represent developers in successful appeal for large new shopping centre in Kirkstall, Leeds;
- Represented Oxford City Council in opposing controversial development at Jericho Canalside, Oxford;
- Appeared for Islington Council to oppose a new 39 storey development at Old Street, London;
- Represented a landowner at a 10 week inquiry into proposal for an urban extension to Derby;
- Appeared for the Port of London Authority and TFL in an enforcement appeal concerning the entitlement of river boats to moor on the Thames; the enforcement notice was quashed and the decision establishes the extent of lawful uses which may take place on the river Thames;
- Represented the local planning authority in the recent public inquiry into Thames Water's application for a desalination plant on the Thames at Beckton;
- Appeared for the Port of London Authority at the inquiry into a large housing scheme at Peruvian Wharf which would involve the loss of a safeguarded wharf;
- West Stevenage Consortium - six month inquiry into 5,000 unit housing scheme at West Stevenage.
Douglas has a particularly strong High Court and Court of Appeal practice in planning and related fields. His recent notable cases include:
- R (LB Hillingdon) v Mayor of London  EWHC 3387 (Admin) - represented the Mayor of London in his successful defence of a claim for judicial review brought by LB Hillington of the Mayor’s decision to grant planning permission for development of the former Master Brewer Motel site. This important case concerned the interpretation of policy D9 of the 2021 London Plan.
- R (Suliman) v Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council  EWHC 1196 (Admin) - represented the developer in its successful defence of a claim for judicial review of a grant of planning permission for residential development on the site of the former Christchurch Police Station and Magistrates’ Court. The case concerned the limits of the powers of LPA’s to grant planning permission with a condition which changed the form of the development applied for.
- R. (on the application of Skelmersdale Ltd Partnership) v West Lancashire BC and St.Modwen Developments Limited  EWCA Civ 1260 - appeared for St.Modwen in High Court and Court of Appeal in defending successfully a challenge to a planning permission for a large town centre redevelopment proposed;
- Turner v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 375 (Admin)- instructed jointly by Lambeth Council and the Mayor of London to defend in High Court and Court of Appeal the grant of planning permission for the redevelopment of the Shell Centre on London's South Bank';
- Newham LBC v Ali  EWCA Civ 676 represented Council in High Court and in Court of Appeal concerning enforcement of s.106 obligation in a case which now stands as the principal authority concerning enforcement of planning obligations;
- R (Cherkley Campaign) v Mole Valley DC  EWHC 2582 (Admin) - appeared for Claimant in High Court and Court of Appeal into JR of planning permission for new golf course in Green Belt and AONB;
- R (Bermondsey Village Action Group) v Mayor of London and others -  EWCA Civ 1738 - instructed by Mayor of London and TfL to defend successfully a claim for judicial review of the grant of planning permission for redevelopment of London Bridge Station;
- R (Carter) v Swansea City Council  EWHC 75 (Admin) - instructed to appear for landowner claimants at hearing of judicial review into grant of planning permission for major windfarm development outside Swansea;
- R (Savage) v Mansfield DC  EWCA Civ 4 - appeared at JR into claim to quash permission for residential led development on edge of Sherwood Forest on grounds relating to breach of Birds Directive;
- Barnett v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, heard in March 2009 and in which the Court of Appeal introduced a radically new approach to the interpretation of planning permissions.
Local Plan Experience
Douglas also has particular experience in advising on the preparation of local plans and appearing, for LPAs and landowner, at local plan examinations. He is presently instructed to represent the Greater Cambridge Authority to promote its joint local plan and, as such, is well versed in current issues concerning defining housing and other development needs, identifying land supply, green belt and conservation issues. He has also recently represented Redbridge LBC and Oxford City Council to promote through examination their respective emerging local plans.
In 2020 Douglas was instructed by Exeter College, Oxford to support the Cherwell Local Plan proposals to allocate and remove from the Green Belt a large area of land at North Oxford, owned by the College, for housing development and to promote its site at Frieze Farm as a further development site.
Douglas also represents the West London Consortium in respect of the new London Plan and in particular in their successful opposition to the Mayor’s intended small sites policies which were rejected as unsound by the Panel.
Douglas is regularly instructed on matters relating to Green Belt including on sensitive proposals to assess potential for changes to Green Belt boundaries or to resist such proposals.
He has been instructed on many occasions to advise local planning authorities on the preparation of their local plans and other development plan documents and to represent those authorities during the examination stage of the process
Recent examples include:
- Cambridge City Council Local Plan and South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018 joint examination – advised on methodology and approach to Cambridge Inner Green Belt Study and represented both Councils through examination, including justifying limited Green Belt release and opposing substantial release. This included successfully resisting a successfully a major challenge to the methodology of the assessment by development industry and landowners.
- Emerging Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire Joint Local Plan – advised on approach to and methodology for full review to Cambridge Green belt including potential for areas for release.
- Cherwell Local Plan Partial Review – represented Exeter College, Oxford at examination into Partial Review Plan which sought to release areas of land North of Oxford from the Green Belt to meet Oxford City’s housing need. Representations included examination of relationship between Green Belt protection and securing locationally sustainable patterns of growth by release of land on the edge of settlements.
- Oxford Local Plan 2020 – advised Oxford City Council and represented the Council at examination into its new local plan, adopted in 2020. This included advising on the approach and methodology for considering and then supporting release of land from the Oxford Green Belt.
- LB Redbridge Local Plan – advised LB Redbridge and represented the Council at examination of their plan proposing substantial areas of Green Belt release in North East London.
- LB Hillingdon and consortium of West London Authorities – advised and represented Councils at the Examination in Public for the new London Plan in support of limited Green Belt release;
- Mayor of London – represented the Mayor at various recent public inquiries into proposals to develop Metropolitan Open Land (which is subject to same policy restraint as Green Belt).
Planning Obligations and Conditions
Douglas has a particular expertise in advising and appearing in cases in matters concerning the interpretation and enforcement of planning obligations and conditions. He is asked frequently to advise local authorities and developers in respect of disputes concerning planning obligations and has acted recently in several matters which have proceeded to arbitration and to trial before the Chancery Division in this field. A recent example if this is LB Newham v Ali in the Court of Appeal which is the leading case concerning the enforcement of planning obligations.
Development Viability Disputes
Douglas has particular experience concerning viability issue arising in respect of planning obligations, and development proposals more generally. He advises regularly, and appears at public inquiries and other hearing, where development viability is in issue. He has advised the Mayor of London in respect of development at Convoys Wharf, at City Forum and at Mount Pleasant Sorting Office all of which gave rise to challenges to the Mayor's approach to assessment of viability issues in respect of planning applications for large scale housing-led development for which the Mayor became the determining local planning authority.
Douglas also recently successfully represented Whitbread PLC in overturning at a public inquiry the rejection of its hotel and office scheme in LB Islington by reason of viability issues and the absent of delivery of affordable floorspace.
He also has particular experience in disputes concerning redevelopment of public houses where issues as to viability of continued or recommenced commercial use is at issue.
He has been instructed in the last few years by both developers/landowners and by local planning authorities in respect of proposals to redevelop or change the use of public houses on grounds of lack of viability.
Assets of Community Value
Douglas appears regularly in courts and tribunals, as well as advising, in respect of assets of community value. He is presently instructed by Cala Homes Plc/Banner Homes Limited in a claim, which has been heard in the Upper Tribunal which is proceeding to the Court of Appeal, concerning whether trespassory use of undeveloped land can properly give rise to ACV listing). Douglas also represented the South Bank Centre in respect of the highly controversial skate-board park beneath the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank, London, in respect of both an application to list the area as an ACV and in respect of an application for its registration as a town green.
Community Infrastructure Levy
Douglas has developed a particular expertise in the complex field of CIL and in particular in advising on the interpretation and application of the CIL Regulations.
He represented LB Wandsworth in litigation in the High Court is presently instructed in respect of an important case in the Courts concerning the interpretation of the transitional provisions to the 2010 Regulations. He has also advised extensively concerning the preparation and examination of charging schedules and on appeals concerning liability notices.
In late 2020, Douglas represented Lambeth Council in its successful challenge to an inspector’s decision concerning the operation of the surcharge regime under the CIL Regs (see LB Lambeth v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government  EWHC 1459 (Admin)).
Land Assembly and Disposal
Douglas has developed considerable experience in advising local authorities and their development partners concerning land assembly exercises. He has particular experience in the operation of the procedure for compulsory acquisition as well as appropriation of local authority land for planning purposes within the provisions of the TCPA 1990, and its implications including in respect of extinguishment of covenants and rights of way and in respect of the compensation provisions which follow there from. He is at present engaged to advise a local authority concerning the appropriation of land for major housing development in the Midlands together with the various compensation claims which have arisen. He is also advising in respect of similar land acquisition issues concerning the proposed Garden Bridge, in Central London.
He has considerable experience of planning enforcement both at inquiry, and in the High Court in the context of injunction applications. He is regularly instructed by local planning authorities for complex enforcement cases and is noted for handling detailed factual disputes arising under ground (d) appeals and in lawful development certificate matters. In 2008 he appeared for Lambeth LBC, the successful respondent, in a judicial review which considered a wide range of issues concerning planning enforcement against advertisements and interpretation of schemes of delegation (R (oao Blow Up Media) v Lambeth LBC [2008 EWHC 1912 (Admin). He has particular recent experience, acting for landowner, in ground d and CLEUD appeals which turn on the distinction between operational development and change of use, applying the Murfitt principle.
In 2015, he represented the London Borough of Newham at an inquiry and subsequently in court proceedings concerning an unlawful mosque in the Borough.
Other Areas of Planning Practice
Douglas had been instructed on a number of listed building cases and has developed particular expertise in advising upon, and appearing at, inquiries in relation to enabling development proposals affecting listed buildings and in applying the guidance published by English Heritage concerning that subject. Recent examples include the UK Holocaust Memorial Inquiry and the Citroen site redevelopment, which involved consideration of impact of proposed development on heritage assets of the highest order including world heritage sites and grade 1 listed buildings.
His other areas of specialism include mineral planning (in which he has recently had two notable successes, one for an appellant and one for a mineral planning authority) and also water and riverbank related development. He appeared recently in a controversial inquiry concerning the right to moor vessels temporarily on the River Thames.
Douglas is instructed regularly to advise on and to promote DCOs at examination.
He is presently instructed by Thurrock Council in respect of the proposals for the Lower Thames Crossing in Essex.
He successfully acted for Swansea City Council, in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, in its defence of a claim concerning whether the Swansea Tidal Barrage DCO remained in force (Tidal Lagoon (Swansea Bay) PLC v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy  EWCA Civ 1579).
He was retained by National Grid to advise on its proposed electricity transmission connection in Lancashire and Cumbria (including within the Lake District National Park) to serve the proposed new nuclear power station at Moorside.
Douglas is instructed by the Mayor of London to advise and represent the Mayor and TfL in respect of the proposal for a third runway at London Heathrow Airport. He is also instructed by a consortium of landowners and other agencies in respect of the Sizewell C project.
Douglas also advised and represented the Mayor of London in respect of the London Bridge Station scheme and the litigation which arose from it.
Douglas has particular experience in energy schemes, including renewables (on shore and off shore) and gas powered projects and has advised on, promoted and opposed several such projects.
He was instructed by Highways England in respect of the DCO seeking powers to dual the A30 in Cornwall. He was instructed by BAA in respect of its proposals for a second runway at Stansted Airport, by the Mayor of London in respect of his decision to refuse consent to expand City Airport and by the local planning authority in respect of Thames Water's proposed desalination plant in East London. Douglas, while still a junior barrister, was instructed by LB Southwark in respect of the Thameslink proposals in the Borough.
Douglas was an assistant editor of the Infrastructure Planning Handbook.
Town and Village Greens and Common Land
Douglas is recognised as one of the leading practitioners in this complex and specialist area of land and has been involved in many of the most significant cases in the field.
He appears regularly for landowners and applicants at inquiries and has advised extensively on the subject. He is also asked regularly to sit as an inspector on behalf of registration authorities.
Douglas also advises and acts regularly in respect of applications under the Commons Legislation to secure extinguishment or amendment of rights of common and other applications under the Commons Act 2006. He has acted at commons act inquiries in respect of s.16 deregistration applications and s.38 works applications for a number of utility companies, renewable energy providers, local authorities and landowners. He has recently acted on numerous occasions for Highways England in respect of commons issues arising from highway improvement schemes.
Douglas represented the successful lead Appellant in the Supreme Court in R (Lancashire County Council) v Secretary of State for Environment  2 W.L.R. 1 - represented Lancashire County Council, as landowner, in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in its successful application to quash registration of land held for education purposes as a town green. The Supreme Court decision is now the principal authority on the approach to statutory incompatibility.
In 2022. Douglas represented Bellway Homes Limited in its challenge concerning the operation of the trigger event provisions set out in the CA 2006 (R (Bellway Homes Limited) v Kent County Council  EWHC 2593 (Admin)).
In 2021, Douglas represented Blackbushe Airport in the Court of Appeal (and before that in the High Court and at a public inquiry) in respect of its application to deregister as common land parts of the operational airfield.
Douglas appeared for the TVG applicant in the Supreme Court, as well as the lower courts, in the “Trap Grounds” case (formally reported as Oxford City Council v. Oxfordshire County Council and Robinson. This case raises a range of critical issues as to the determination and administration of applications to register land as a town or village green.
In 2014 Douglas appeared in the Supreme Court in R (Barkas) v North Yorkshire CC  UKSC 31, an important case concerning whether local authority land is capable of being registered as a town green under Commons Act 2006.
In 2016 he also appeared for Surrey County Council in R (NHS Property Services Ltd.) v Surrey County Council  EWHC 1715 (Admin), which involved a challenge to a decision of the County Council as commons registration authority to register land as a green under the Commons Act 2006. The case concerned, inter alia, the power of a registration authority to reject the recommendation of its inspector and also the applicability of the statutory incompatibility defence to land held by the NHS.
In 2016 he also appeared for the successful claimant in R (Goodman) v Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs  EWHC 2576 (Admin) in which a decision to reject a TVG application was quashed on the basis of wrong interpretation of the law concerning implied appropriation of land and in R (Allaway) v Oxfordshire County Council  EWHC 2677 (Admin), an important decision by Patterson J. concerning the relationship between use of public footpaths and use of land to support a claim to registration as a TVG under the Commons Act 2006.
Douglas’ experience in the law relating to common land and green has led to regular instructions to advise local authorities and their development partners concerning the management of open space. He is instructed frequently to advise local authorities in respect of the exercise of powers of management and use of public open space. He has also advised several local authorities concerning proposals for rationalisation and disposal of open space and the navigation through the complex procedures and decision-making processes which are involved.
In 2022, Douglas represented LB Wandworth at the inquiry into it application for consent for new sports facilities on Tooting Common.
In 2017 Douglas was instructed by LB Wandsworth to oppose an application for judicial review by which the Council's exercise of statutory powers to permit the use of Battersea Park for the "formula e" motor racing event was challenged.
Highway and Rights of Ways and New Roads and Street Works
From his early days in practice, Douglas has been instructed to appear and advise on a wide range of highway related matters.
He has promoted substantial road schemes both for the Highway Agency and for local highway authorities. These schemes have involved both orders under the Highways Act 1980 and compulsory purchase orders.
He has appeared in many inquiries concerning applications to modify the definitive footpaths map made under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and applications to stop up or divert footpaths and bridleways. He has recently acted for the owners of a large estate in Leicestershire at the public inquiry into their application to divert several bridleways which passed though the estate and close to the principal house.
He acted for Newhaven Port at a lengthy public inquiry concerning applications to add footpaths within the operational Port into to the definitive map. He acted for Oxfordshire County Council in the court proceedings which arose from the highly controversial order to stop-up a bridleway which passed through the BMW plant at Cowley, Oxford. He is also presently instructed by Millgate Properties in respect of a claim to footpaths over a private estate in Hampshire. He is instructed by Ealing LBC, as local highway authority, in respect of a claim to footpaths over land intended to be used by QPR as a training ground.
- Acting for Network Rail on several such applications involving unsafe level crossings.
- R (Hargrave) v. Stroud District Council (2003) 1 P&CR 1 - he appeared in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal in this case, which established the power for a local authority to abandon a footpath diversion order after it was made.
Douglas has particular experience in the application of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. He has recently appeared for Virgin in defending the company successfully against a prosecution from exceedance of a street works licence where the works had extended beyond the licenced period. The case gave rise to important issues concerning the relationship between fixed penalty notices and prosecution.
Douglas also acted, as junior to Lord Kingsland KC, for Thames Water Utilities Ltd. v. London Underground Ltd.  EWCA Civ 615 - which concerned the cost sharing provisions under the NRSWA 1991 - in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
Douglas has a busy practice in the field of environmental law. He advises and appears regularly in statutory nuisance appeals for both local authorities and commercial operators in both the civil and criminal courts. His clients include a considerable number of large industrial companies and public utilities.
Recently Douglas appeared for Anglian Water in Manchester Ship Canal Company v United Utilities Ltd and Anglian Water Services PLC  UKSC 40 in Supreme Court in the important appeal concerning entitlement for water utilities to discharge into watercourses;
He has had particular experience also in private nuisance cases and has acted in several cases concerning nuisance arising from the agricultural sector. He has acted in particular both for claimants and for the farming industry in respect of private nuisance actions arising out of farming operations. He acted for Staffordshire County Council in respect of an enforcement action and subsequently for an injunction to restrain unlawfully tipping of liquid waste on farmland.
He also acts regularly for the water industry. By way of example, he has been instructed by Thames Water Utilities to defend a prosecution concerning statutory nuisance arising at the Crossness Sewage Treatment Plan. He has also represented Anglian Water in respect of similar actions.
He has recently been instructed by a London local authority in the first reported action in the High Court for an injunction to restrain a serious statutory nuisance from a licensed premises, where criminal proceedings has not proved to be adequate remedy.
In the environmental field, Douglas has particular experience in water related matters. In 2022 he advised South West Water in respect of its drought permit applications. He and has recently been heavily involved in statutory nuisance proceedings against a water utility, in an inquiry into a discharge consent application for a water utility and is presently engaged in a large civil claim by a landfill operator against a water company in respect arising out of a trade effluent agreement.
Douglas appears regularly for claimants and acquiring authorities at CPO inquiries and in the Lands Tribunal.
He has particular experience in dealing with compulsory purchase compensation claims concerning agricultural holdings and affecting minerals rights, particularly arising from transport and infrastructure schemes.
He also has particular experience in respect of promoting compulsory purchase orders affecting common land and rights of common, and has been instructed by the Highways England and several local highway authorities in respect of order affecting such land, most recently in respect of the duelling of the A30 in Cornwall.
He was retained by TfL as part of its panel of counsel to act for the compensating authority in respect of claims arising from Crossrail, and acted in respect of many such claims, particularly arising from acquisition of interest in retail units, A3/A4 premises and betting offices in London. In the past few years, he has appeared in a large and complex loss of profits claim arising from a road scheme affecting a private hospital and nursing homes, and in respect of an extinguishment claim in respect of an agricultural unit arising from a rail scheme, in both cases representing the claimant. He also represented TfL to oppose successfully at inquiry a purchase order arising from the Crossrail scheme.
He represented Nottinghamshire County Council in respect of a compensation claim for loss of land at a retail park, as result of a road scheme. He appeared, as junior to Robin Purchas KC, in a major and long running claim arising from an urban development scheme in central Bristol.
Douglas has particular experience in respect of disturbance and loss of profit claims, and has acted and advised recently in respect of several cases concerning disturbance compensation.
He also has particular experience in compensation claims arising from extinguishment of covenants and rights of way following acquisition or appropriation of land by local authorities, and is presently retained by a local authority who are addressing several substantial claims following appropriation of land under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. He also advised Westminster City Council in respect of the compensation implications arising from the Garden Bridge project, in Central London.
Douglas is presently instructed in to advise on, and to promote, a large CPO to bring forward a Mayoral housing zone in East London and also, in the same area, to promote a CPO to acquire a large brownfield site allocated for development in a local plan, following a refusal by the landowner to release the site for development.
Douglas' recent parliamentary practice has involved representing several landowners and developers as petitioners against the Crossrail Bill and, more recently, HS2. He appeared for Network Rail in its petition against powers sought to be taken through the London Local Authorities Bill in 2007.
Douglas has acted in an advisory capacity and as an advocate in a wide range of property matters including landlord and tenant, mortgages, easements and restrictive covenants. He appears regularly in the Chancery Division and higher courts, before the Lands Tribunal (in particular in respect of restrictive covenant matters) and before the residential property tribunal.
- Recorder (2019)
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"Douglas is excellent with clients; really gets their attention and confidence."Chambers and Partners, 2023
"Douglas is a fantastic advocate; one of the best."Chambers and Partners, 2023
"He is always easy to get a hold of and very approachable. He really understands the clients."Chambers and Partners, 2023
"Douglas is an excellent barrister and is highly skilled in his field. He is not shy of taking on difficult arguments and presenting them to the best of his ability."Chambers and Partners, 2023
"He is a very good barrister and advocate."Chambers and Partners, 2023