The five top-rated junior planning barristers under 35 2020: profiles

(l-r) Zack Simons, Rebecca Clutton, Killian Garvey, Thea Osmund-Smith, Heather Sargent
(l-r) Zack Simons, Rebecca Clutton, Killian Garvey, Thea Osmund-Smith, Heather Sargent

Zack Simons

Landmark Chambers

Simons is "a real rising star", says one solicitor, commending his ability to offer clients "practical and very robust advice" in an "approachable and digestible way". Another solicitor says Simons is "simply brilliant at judicial review work", adding: "He is also a walking case law resource." Notable instructions have included acting for a housebuilder to successfully challenge the five-year housing land supply of Milton Keynes Council, just three months after the authority adopted a new local plan. In one case, Simons persuaded Supreme Court judges to uphold a Court of Appeal decision that overturned permission for a wind turbine, establishing that a community fund donation cannot qualify as a material planning consideration.

Rebecca Clutten

Francis Taylor Building

“Astute, commercial, hard-working,” says one solicitor of Clutten, who is prized by clients who value her ability to make complex issues easily understood. The Francis Taylor Building junior’s cases include acting for a landowner to overturn seven enforcement notices relating to the commercial use of a site in the green belt. Current instructions include acting for a student housing developer in relation to a £30 million claim against High Speed 2 and advising Tower Hamlets Council in relation to a planned compulsory purchase order for the Chrisp Street market. One legal colleague says Clutten is “smart, articulate and undoubtedly a future star of the planning bar”.

Heather Sargent

Landmark Chambers

Heather Sargent of Landmark Chambers has jumped eight places in the senior junior rankings (see table, p33) as well as taking third place in the under-35s category. Described by a colleague as “extremely bright and down-to-earth”, Sargent is advising Gatwick Airport on a development consent order application to bring a standby runway into routine use. Cases in the past 12 months included acting for Cargiant to successfully resist the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation’s efforts to allocate the firm’s land for housing and acting for the promoter of a former green belt site to defend the Guildford local plan from a High Court challenge.

Thea Osmund-Smith

No5 Barristers’ Chambers

Fourth place in the under-35s table (above) is occupied by a barrister described by one voter as “a shining torch in a competitive junior market”. Osmund-Smith has promoted more than 1,000 homes through the planning appeals process in the past 12 months, recently securing permission at appeal for 80 houses in Leicestershire, and has acted for developers and land promoters in the examination of local plans in North Warwickshire, Wrexham and the West of England. One solicitor says: “Thea can be relied on to always fight your corner hard and ensure that the advice is robust and effective.”

Killian Garvey

Kings Chambers

Garvey is “wise beyond his youthful looks”, says one consultant, commending his “clear, insightful and precise advice”. His cases this year have included successfully challenging a planning permission granted by Bradford Council via a judgment that clarified a key aspect of heritage policy, securing a Court of Appeal victory for a developer in a verdict that offered insights into the correct interpretation of neighbourhood plan policies and acting for several councils to ensure the dismissal of appeals. One solicitor sums up Garvey’s strengths by saying: “Confident, good insight, persuasive in court for a junior of his call.”

View the full table of top-rated juniors under 35 here.

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