Planning for success pays off for law firm | 13 January 09

THE planning team at leading North law firm Ward Hadaway has found its expertise in great demand at a series of high-profile planning inquiries.

Despite the downturn in the property sector during 2008, the team’s blend of experienced lawyers and specialist planners has meant it has been kept very busy over the course of the year.

Members of the 12-strong team have been involved in more planning inquiries during 2008 than in 2007 when the effects of the credit crunch were not being felt.

Their expertise has been called upon by a variety of clients, from local authorities and housebuilders to commercial developers.

Team members have appeared both as advocates putting forward the views of clients at hearings and as expert witnesses giving evidence to inquiries.

Successes during the year have included the result of a public inquiry into plans by a prominent meat retailer to build an incinerator at a site in Sedgefield, County Durham.

Acting for the company, head of property and planning Neil Robson and chartered town planner Andrew Moss successfully secured planning consent to develop the site.

Neil Robson acted for Sedgefield Town Council at a public inquiry, successfully objecting to plans for a large caravan park near to Hardwick Hall.

Neil was also involved in a three-day public inquiry into plans to demolish an unlisted house in a conservation area at Tudhoe, near Durham City.

Appearing on behalf of the client looking to demolish the building, he successfully argued that planning consent should be granted for the work.

Andrew Moss also appeared as an expert witness for housebuilder Barratt Developments at an inquiry into plans to build 120 homes on a three hectare brownfield site in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. The inquiry ruled that Barratt should be given permission to develop the site.

Planning partner Robin Atkin’s expertise on village green issues saw him in demand at public inquiries in Northumberland whilst Neil Robson spent a large part of 2008 acting for Northumberland National Park in a nine-month public inquiry into plans for a wind farm on the edge of the Park.

Neil Robson said: “We have had an extremely busy year when it comes to planning inquiries; an exceptional year when you consider how the credit crunch has affected the property sector.

“The range of expertise within the team, covering residential, conservation, retail, heritage, energy and waste issues has meant we have been much in demand.

“The fact that we have both planning lawyers and planners within the team means we can offer both greater continuity to clients and a more comprehensive service which can tackle almost any planning issue.

“Judging by our record over the past 12 months, it appears that clients really value this.”

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