The five top-rated planning solicitors 2020: profiles

(l-r) Simon Ricketts, Ian Ginbey, Stephen Ashworth, Stuart Andrews, Clare Fielding
(l-r) Simon Ricketts, Ian Ginbey, Stephen Ashworth, Stuart Andrews, Clare Fielding

1. Simon Ricketts

Town Legal

Ricketts (below) has topped the rankings of individual solicitors for more than a decade. One consultant explains his enduring appeal: “Simon is not only extremely knowledgeable about planning law, but very sensible and pragmatic in the advice he gives.” In the past 12 months, Ricketts has acted for Cargiant, resisting the proposed allocation and compulsory purchase of its Old Oak land holdings, and seen off two judicial reviews for Stansted Airport. Another consultant adds: “His social media presence, in particular his blog, offers very valuable insights into contemporary planning issues.”

2. Ian Ginbey

Clyde & Co

Described as “approachable, affable” and with “a positive mindset” by one voter, Ginbey (above) takes second place in this year’s survey. His work has included acting for Peel Group to promote plans for a championship golf resort and 1,000 homes in the green belt near Bolton, a project that was the subject of a public inquiry in October last year. In another case, Ginbey acted for Grainger to secure planning permission for an estate renewal scheme in Waterloo. One consultant says clients value his ability to communicate complex legal arguments effectively, saying: “Ian doesn’t overcomplicate the advice and keeps it simple.”

3 = Stephen Ashworth

Dentons

Ashworth takes joint third after a year in which he advised Chelmsford City Council on a 5,000-home garden community project in North East Chelmsford, Taylor Wimpey and Wandsworth Borough Council on the regeneration of the Winstanley and York Road estates, and retirement living provider Auriens on an appeal over plans for a 150-apartment extra care facility in Kensington. One consultant commends Ashworth's "very pragmatic" approach, which sees him advising a mix of public and private sector clients. A local authority planner says his knowledge of planning law is "second to none" and praises his ability to "challenge traditional ways of doing things".

3 = Stuart Andrews

Evershed Sutherland

Large and complex projects are Andrews’ specialism. In October 2019, he secured planning permission for the 3,000- home Northern Arc garden village at Burgess Hill on behalf of Homes England. He continues to advise on the Viking Link project, an electricity interconnector between the UK and Norway, while instructed on proposed garden settlements in Worcester and Leicester. One consultant says Andrews “works hand-in-glove with real estate colleagues” and praises his ability to “advise on complex infrastructure provision on strategic land”. A public sector client notes Andrews will try to “broker a deal when negotiations are at a stalemate”.

3= Clare Fielding

Fielding combines a “practical and commercial perspective” with a “relaxed and approachable” manner, in the words of one consultant. Her instructions include advising on the Battersea Power Station redevelopment as well as numerous other projects in the capital – acting for Sellar on developments in Canada Water and Bermondsey Street, advising St James on housing schemes in White City and acting for Mount Anvil on its Western Gateway redevelopment at the Royal Victoria Dock. As one local authority planning lawyer says: “Her ability to break an obligation down to its component parts is incredibly skilful,” adding: “Although she can be a hard negotiator, she is respected by all.”

View the full table of the highest-rated planning solicitors 2020 here.


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