Planning team on the national map | 15 August 11

THE planning team at law firm Ward Hadaway has been rated as one of the best in the country by industry experts.

A survey by industry publication Planning Magazine placed the firm in the top 40 legal planning specialists in England and Wales.

Ward Hadaway climbed up 13 places in the annual survey from 44th last year to be placed 31st in this year’s list, above a number of major international and City law firms.

The survey also showed how the firm is working with some of the best planning barristers in the business.

Martin Kingston QC, who worked with Ward Hadaway on a recent high-profile planning inquiry, is rated in the top 3 of the best planning barristers by Planning Magazine.

Neil Robson, Partner and Head of the Property department at Ward Hadaway, said: “We always strive to deliver the very best for our clients so it is very pleasing that this has earned us such recognition from the industry.

“To be placed in the Top 50 list for another year and to have improved our ranking by such a margin is a reflection of the commitment and expertise of the team.”

Ward Hadaway’s planning team has been involved in a range of projects, developments, planning applications and appeals over the past year.

The team provided advice on plans for a 100,000 tonne anaerobic digestion plant at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham.

The plans from Emerald Biogas were approved by Durham County Council last summer and construction of the facility – the largest of its kind in the North-East – is now under way.

Elsewhere in the renewable energy sector, Ward Hadaway’s planning team has been involved in a number of planning inquiries into wind farm developments across the region.

The team helped to put together detailed planning evidence and co-ordinated the case for a developer bidding to operate a proposed new motorway service area on a widened section of the A1(M) in North Yorkshire.

The evidence went before an eight-week public inquiry into the proposed development and a decision is expected from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government early next year.

During the past year, Ward Hadaway advised on a successful appeal against a decision to decline permission for a quarry extension and tourism development, on a successful appeal by a charity to extend their listed building premises in South Shields and successful appeals in York and Darlington in relation to unauthorised developments.

The firm’s planning team are also helping to shape future development by advising on emerging development plans in Northumberland, Durham and Newcastle and providing expert evidence to Examinations in Public in North Yorkshire and Darlington.

The firm has also acted for a number of land owners objecting against plans to register various locations as village greens to prevent any future development.

The team itself has been boosted with the recruitment of experienced planning lawyer Michelle Spark, who joined the firm from Eversheds in October 2010.

Robin Atkin, Partner and Head of the Planning team at Ward Hadaway, said: “It has been a busy past year for the team and the accolade from Planning Magazine is a welcome endorsement for the efforts everyone has made.

“The Legal Survey is a key benchmark for any law firm which is serious about its planning team as it is compiled from responses from planning specialists within the legal sector.

“It is always rewarding to be recognised by your peers and we look forward to helping to deliver many more projects over the coming year.”

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