How to legally challenge a planning decision (with help from a barrister)

If you need to legally challenge a planning decision or construction project, going head-to-head with authorities is a daunting task. A barrister can provide valuable assistance with property and planning issues, including matters related to restrictive covenants, highways, and village greens. Here’s how a barrister can help in each of these areas:

Planning Issues:

Appeals: Barristers can legally challenge a planning decision by representing clients in planning appeals, whether against planning refusals or enforcement notices. They can present legal arguments and evidence to support the client’s case.

Judicial Review: In cases where there are concerns about the lawfulness of planning decisions, a barrister can advise on the possibility of judicial review proceedings, challenging the decision on legal grounds.

Development Agreements: Barristers can assist in drafting and negotiating development agreements, ensuring that legal obligations are clearly defined and that the interests of all parties are protected.

Restrictive Covenants:

Legal Advice: Barristers can offer legal advice on the nature and enforceability of restrictive covenants affecting a property. They can analyze the language of the covenants and provide guidance on their implications.

Enforcement or Variation: If there are disputes or disagreements regarding restrictive covenants, a barrister can represent clients in negotiations or, if necessary, in court proceedings to either enforce or seek a variation of the covenants.


Access Issues: Barristers can assist with legal issues related to highways, especially concerning access rights, road closures, or disputes over the use of highways. They can provide advice on legal rights and obligations.

Public Inquiries: If a matter related to highways requires a public inquiry, such as in the case of road proposals or closures, a barrister can represent clients during the inquiry, presenting legal arguments and evidence.

Village Greens:

Common Land and Village Green Status: Barristers can provide advice on the legal status of land and whether it qualifies as a village green or common land. They can assist in cases where communities seek to protect such spaces from development.

Public Inquiries and Litigation: If a dispute arises over the use or development of village green land, a barrister can represent the interests of the community or the landowner in public inquiries or court proceedings.

Negotiations and Dispute Resolution:

Barristers are skilled negotiators, and they can assist in negotiating settlements and agreements in property and planning disputes. This may involve finding practical solutions that avoid lengthy and costly litigation.

Legal Representation in Court:

Legally challenging a planning decision can progress to court, here a barrister can provide representation during hearings or trials. They can present legal arguments, cross-examine witnesses, and advocate for their client’s position.

Engaging a barrister in property and planning matters ensures that clients receive expert legal advice and representation tailored to the specific complexities of each case. Barristers play a crucial role in navigating the legal intricacies of these issues and helping clients achieve favorable outcomes.

What would the process involve when working with a barrister to help with property and planning matters?

Working with a barrister on property and planning matters involves a structured process that typically includes the following steps:

  1. Initial Consultation:
    • The process often begins with an initial consultation. During this meeting, you can discuss the details of your property and planning issues with the barrister. This is an opportunity for the barrister to assess the merits of your case, provide preliminary legal advice, and discuss potential strategies.
  2. Legal Analysis:
    • The barrister will conduct a thorough legal analysis of your situation. For property matters, this may involve reviewing title deeds, contracts, and any relevant agreements. In planning cases, the barrister will examine planning permissions, local planning policies, and other relevant documents.
  3. Advice and Strategy:
    • Based on their analysis, the barrister will provide you with legal advice and discuss potential strategies to address your property and planning issues. They will explain the strengths and weaknesses of your case, potential outcomes, and the best course of action.
  4. Documentation and Evidence:
    • If litigation or negotiations are anticipated, the barrister may assist in gathering necessary documentation and evidence to support your case. This may include preparing witness statements, compiling relevant legal precedents, and identifying key pieces of evidence.
  5. Negotiations:
    • If negotiations are part of the strategy, the barrister may represent you in discussions with other parties involved in the matter. This could include local authorities, developers, or other stakeholders. The goal is to reach a mutually acceptable resolution without the need for court proceedings.
  6. Legal Proceedings:
    • If a resolution cannot be reached through negotiation, the barrister may prepare the necessary legal documents to initiate court proceedings. This could involve filing a claim or appeal, depending on the nature of the dispute.
  7. Court Representation:
    • If the matter proceeds to court, the barrister will represent you during hearings, trials, or other court proceedings. They will present legal arguments, cross-examine witnesses, and advocate on your behalf.
  8. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):
    • In some cases, alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, may be appropriate. The barrister can guide you through these processes, representing your interests and working toward a resolution outside of court.
  9. Review of Decisions:
    • If the case involves decisions made by planning authorities, the barrister may advise on the potential for challenging those decisions through judicial review, if applicable.
  10. Outcome and Next Steps:
    • The barrister will keep you informed of developments in your case and discuss the outcome of court proceedings or negotiations. They may also guide any additional steps that need to be taken.

It’s important to maintain open communication with your barrister throughout the process and to provide them with any relevant information or updates that may impact the case. Additionally, discuss fees and billing arrangements with the barrister upfront to ensure a clear understanding of the costs involved.

Where to find a barrister to legally challenge a planning decision

At Quartz we have access to barristers with the expertise and experience needed to support planning, property and construction proceedings and manage complex cases. Get in touch to see how we can help you.

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