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Planning Law

Planning Solicitors - offering planning consultancy and planning advice.

Planning Solicitors specialising in planning for individuals

Our planning department consists of a chartered town planning consultant and specialist planning solicitors who can provide expert advice on any planning-related matter. Whether you are seeking to submit a planning application, wish to lodge an appeal against a refusal of planning permission or have been issued with an enforcement notice we are here to help.

We keep up to date with the latest planning policy reforms and case law to provide you with the best service possible and optimise your chances of success.

Our team provides a one-stop service for planning consultancy and planning law advice. We will be able to tell you whether your specific case requires the services of a planning consultant or solicitor or both and we aim to provide you with a realistic appraisal of your situation at an early stage.

Although based in Dorset, we provide planning services throughout the UK. Initial advice is free and you are under no obligation to continue to use our services.

Dorset Planning Applications

Specialist Planning Solicitors for all types of planning application in and around Dorset

We are skilled and experienced in the preparation and submission of all types of planning applications to the Local Planning Authority no matter how large or small. The Design & Access Statement is often the most important document in explaining the nature of the planning proposal and we produce this Statement to forensically support your application in terms of planning policy, relevant appeal decisions and case law.

A planning consultant often takes on the role of project manager as there can be a number of other consultants whose reports and plans will be necessary to support your planning application. We work with highway engineers, arboriculturists, architects, surveyors and other professionals to ensure that your application is as robust and persuasive as possible.

Some examples of different types of planning applications that we can assist with are as follows:

  • New build residential dwellings
  • Householder applications
  • Change of Use
  • Variation or Removal of condition
  • Commercial and industrial
  • Retail
  • Rural
  • Community and leisure
  • Listed Building and Conservation Area Consent

Planning Appeals

Should your planning application be refused by the Local Planning Authority you have the option to lodge an appeal which is determined by the Planning Inspectorate. We are expert in the preparation and submission of all types of planning appeal. We have access to up-to-the minute appeal decisions which we use in support if they have a bearing on your appeal site. Our planning solicitors can deal with any legal issues which need to be addressed during the appeal and as members of the Royal Town Planning Institute we have direct access to the Planning Bar where we can obtain the very best advice from Counsel on your behalf.

Householder appeals are now very streamlined in terms of their duration and all supporting documentation needs to be lodged with the grounds of appeal. The deadline to lodge an appeal is just 12 weeks following the date of decision so you are advised to contact us as soon as possible after the refusal so we can put the best possible case forward.

Other appeals are conducted by three methods: Written Representations, Informal Hearing and Public Inquiry. We are greatly experienced in all three appeal methods and each one requires different attributes to maximise chances of success.

Written Representation appeals are executed via an exchange of Statements with the Local Planning Authority. Our Statements hone in on the reasons for refusal and dissect each one in relation to planning policy and relevant case law. We aim to leave no stone unturned and we strive to include you, our clients, in the process by providing draft versions of each Statement to you for comment so every possible angle is covered.

Informal Hearing appeals proceed in much the same way as Written Representations except that there is a round-table discussion between the Inspector, the Local Authority and the appellant at the end of the process. We are skilled in putting across our points verbally in a persuasive manner in this environment ensuring that your case has the best chance of success.

Public Inquiry appeals are often led by our planning solicitors with our planning consultant operating as an expert planning witness.  These appeals tend to be more legalistic but our one-stop service provides you with the perfect team to tackle what are usually the most complex or controversial planning appeals.

There is now the opportunity to apply for a costs award if we feel that the Local Planning Authority has acted unreasonably in determining the planning application or during the appeal process. We are expert in lodging costs claims where we feel there is a case to answer.

Certificate of Lawful Use

You may be responsible for an operational development or use of land which does not have the correct planning consent but which you feel it is too late for the Local Planning Authority to take any action against due to the passage of time. If that is the case you may be able to regularise the situation by submitting an application for a Lawful Development Certificate for either an existing use or development (CLUED) or a proposed use or development (CLUPOD).

There are many pitfalls to these types of application and we are expert in asking the right questions and collating the most vital evidence to give your application the best chance of success. Applications often fall down due to a lack of a continuous use being demonstrated for either the four- or ten-year period and we can usually ascertain early on if your application is likely to be successful or not.

For those applications that are not clear cut or have a legal element our planning solicitors can provide input where required to give your application the maximum chance of success.

Planning Enforcement

The main types of notices are detailed below and we are aware of the recent changes to the enforcement regime as a result of the Localism Act, with particular reference to retrospective planning permission and concealed breaches of planning

Enforcement Notice - This is the most common notice and you have a right to appeal it under planning and legal grounds. Our planning team can assist you with this as often you will require the services of a planning consultant and a planning solicitor in combination. If you receive an Enforcement Notice you are advised to contact us immediately as often you will only have 28 days before it becomes effective and after that date you will be unable to appeal. We are able to assess whether there are any technical faults with the issuing of the Notice and we can advise which grounds of appeal should be lodged.

Stop Notice - There are no rights of appeal against a Stop Notice and Local Planning Authorities should only issue one if they feel there is an unauthorised development which requires urgent action. There are strict compliance procedures and fines for non-compliance can rise to £20,000 for each instance.

Breach of Condition Notice - There is no right of appeal against this notice either but there are options open to remedy the situation which can include the submission of a planning application to vary or remove a condition.

Planning Contravention Notice - This usually takes the form of a questionnaire and is a pre-cursor to further enforcement action. You should respond to such a notice promptly and consider each question carefully before responding as this could be used in evidence against you further down the line.

Section 215 Notice - Also known as an untidy site notice. The Local Planning Authority should warn you that they are considering issuing such a notice and you will have the opportunity to remedy the situation and agree a timescale for doing so.

Injunction - Expediency is a watchword in Local Planning Authority planning and if there is no other avenue open then they will consider issuing injunctive action if the unauthorised development is a severe breach. If you receive such action our planning solicitors are able to guide you through the process and represent you in Court if required.

In a large number of cases Enforcement Officers will contact you informally to make you aware that they are investigating a potential breach of planning and may well issue you with a Planning Contravention Notice. At this stage you are advised to contact us and we can assess what options are open to you.

Judicial Review Solicitors

If there has been a procedural deficiency in the way a planning application or planning appeal has been determined then you can apply to the High Court in an attempt to have the decision quashed. Our legal team can assist with guiding you through the process but beware that there are time limits in place. Although the absolute deadline to commence Judicial Review proceedings is six weeks following the date of decision, the law says that you must lodge proceedings as soon as possible.

Planning Laws - Conditions and Legal Agreements

Planning conditions are attached to all planning consents and you should ensure that your development is in compliance with them.  Pre-commencement conditions (or condition precedent) should always be given priority when you receive your decision notice as sometimes they may have a time period within which you need to action something. Such conditions will usually begin “Within x months of the date of this decision....” or “Prior to commencement....”.

If you think that your development is in breach of condition then one option open to you is to submit a variation of condition or removal of condition planning application. This may allow your business to open for longer hours, for you to employ more staff or for you to make alterations to your house.

We are able to interpret more complicated conditions and advise you on the chances of success of your variation or removal of condition planning application.

Sometimes there will be numerous obligations made by the planning authority and we have extensive knowledge and experience in this area to identify these and advise our clients of their expected obligations. Typically these are in the form of Section 106 Agreements but this aspect of planning is undergoing reform at present and we are able to keep you up to date with developments concerning the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Planning Feasibility Study

If you are considering a development the commissioning of a planning consultant to undertake a Planning Feasibility Study is often a prudent step. We will visit you at your site to talk through the key issues and understand the brief. We will then assess the proposal against relevant planning policy, the planning history and case law before outlining your development options in a report. A Planning Feasibility Study will often form the basis of a planning application so if the outcome to the study is positive an application can be lodged swiftly and cost-effectively.

We also offer a desktop-based Planning Feasibility Study in which we can take advantage of internet-based imagery to keep your costs to a minimum.

Planning Advice - Strategic Site Promotion

If you wish to promote a site for residential or commercial use then one option is to attempt to have that land allocated as a future development site. With many local planning authorities being in a state of flux for a variety of reasons, there has never been a better time to put your site forward. We can tell you if your Local Authority has an upcoming consultation or is inviting sites for a variety of uses and we can guide you through the process of increasing the value of your site.

Objecting to Planning Applications

From time to time a neighbour will submit a planning application that adversely affects your property and it is your right to object to that planning application. We are able to write persuasive objection letters on your behalf and to represent you at Planning Committee defending your position. We will only take on your case if we feel that there are valid material planning considerations that suggest the application should be refused.  Similarly you have the right to make representations as a third party in planning appeals and we can lodge objections and represent you at informal hearings and public inquiries if necessary.

James Cain is a chartered town planning consultant with over 20 years post qualifying experience in both the public and private sector. 

A member of the Royal Town Planning Institute, his expertise is an asset to Coles Miller and he works closely with most of our departments providing ad hoc planning advice to our team and clients as required. 

Whilst James has his own planning practice now we have a long term relationship with him, being a former employee.  Should you require the services of a planning consultant then your enquiry will be passed on to him to make an initial free appraisal of your situation.  Often a case will require the services of both a solicitor and a planning consultant and Coles Miller are therefore able to provide this service in conjunction with James.

 

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Meet the team

Roger Leedham

Senior Partner, Head of the Residential Conveyancing Department

Michelle Vick

Partner

Jason Barnett

Partner

Ruth Elkins

Partner

Inga Pope

Associate Solicitor

Katie Owen (Maternity Leave)

Associate Solicitor

Laura Hall

Associate Solicitor

Lianne Clenton Bray

Associate Solicitor

Lauren Cannon

Trainee Solicitor

Laura Bowie

Trainee Legal Executive

Holly Scoular

Trainee Legal Executive (ACILEx) Maternity Leave

Anna Taylor

Trainee Legal Executive

Deborah Bradburn

ACILEx Paralegal and Assistant to Roger Leedham

Alice Henley

Legal Secretary

Anja Lloyd

Legal Secretary

Georgina Ellis

Solicitors Apprentice

Joanne Cameron

Legal Secretary

Katie Harvey

Paralegal

Kayley Watkins

Paralegal

Liz Moynehan

Legal Secretary

Lois Phillips

Legal Secretary

Lydia Wragg

Solicitors Apprentice

Nikola Safronova

Solicitors Apprentice

Sophie Morton

Legal Secretary

Susan Stainton

Senior Secretary

Clare Hallet

Legal Assistant

Karen Price

Legal Assistant

Grace Sheehy

Trainee Solicitor