“an incisive decision-maker who inspires confidence within clients”
Chambers & Partners
John Steel QC’s main areas of practice are planning, environmental, aviation, and compulsory purchase law. He specialises in public inquiries and judicial review. He is cited as a recommended leader by Chambers and Partners, The Legal 500 and UK Legal Experts.
His planning and environmental law practice has encompassed the full range of development and major infrastructure projects, including housing, employment and industrial land development, energy, minerals and waste, retail, highways and transportation, noise and emissions, ecology, engineering, architecture and historic buildings, economics, sports stadiums, racecourses and racetracks. He has represented central government departments, local authorities, regulators, major companies, landowners and developers as well as private individuals. He is an acknowledged expert with specialist knowledge in airport and aviation development, as well as aviation and aerospace regulatory law.
He is joint head of the Planning, Environment and Property law group in Chambers, head of the Aviation and Aerospace law group, is a qualified international arbitrator and CEDR accredited mediator, and practices through Chambers’ offices in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. He is also a Recorder, Bencher of Gray’s Inn, instrument rated pilot, honorary Fellow of Law of Durham University Law School, board member of Durham Global Security Institute and honorary legal adviser to the Air League.
Click here to view John’s full Aviation & Aerospace CV.
Chambers & Partners: Recommended leader in Planning Law and Aviation Law: “an incisive decision-maker who inspires confidence within clients”, “(he) is particularly rated for his fantastic knowledge of airports and aircraft-related work, he is a master of planning law tactics who is very good at managing clients expectations. Diplomatic and effective in style” (2008), “generates acclaim for his client-friendly attitude and nose for the best strategy … [he is a] terrier in court and really quick on his feet” (2009), “an excellent silk-particularly when it comes to cross-examining and a really superb team player” (2010) and “outstanding … [he] is an impressive lateral thinker who offers innovative legal and commercial solutions” (2011); “an impressive lateral thinker who offers innovative legal and commercial solutions” and is “great with clients.” (2012). Local Government Law: “his advice on planning and environmental law is particularly prized” (2009), “robust yet user-friendly approach” (2010), “He has great clarity of thought and displays enthusiasm for his cases.” “Reasonable in terms of both his fee and his approach, he really takes the time to try and understand what it is the client wants to achieve.” (2014)”Incredibly professional and a vast resource of expertise,” “He is courteous and has an incredible sense of purpose. He’ll move heaven and earth to secure the outcome that’s best for his client, and is friendly and amenable,” “His advice is first-class and he is also very personable. He’s a perfect gentleman” (2015), “Forensic and excellent, he is a very charming man.” (2016) “His charm and knowledge of flying and aviation is quite intense – regulations which would confuse anyone else to death he understands. He is also very enthusiastic for the subject.” (2017)
Legal 500: Recommended leader in Aviation Law “Recommended for his airport development expertise” (2010 and 2011); Energy: “Offers insight and commitment to the cause; recommended for environmental energy cases.” (2015); Environmental Law: “An innovative and creative problem solver” (2015) “very impressive environmental specialist” (2008) and “a results-driven focus” (2010), “very enthusiastic and can think his way through complex problems to provide very practical outcomes” (2011); Planning Law: “A very experienced practitioner.” (2015) “good for no-holds-barred planning appeals, especially in the retail sector” (2008) and “results-driven” (2010), “(he is) able to think outside the box and come up with approaches to tackle novel and unusual issues” (2011). “Incredibly professional and a vast resource of expertise,” “He is courteous and has an incredible sense of purpose. He’ll move heaven and earth to secure the outcome that’s best for his client, and is friendly and amenable,” “A knowledge of the law that is second to none.” (2015).
Legal Experts: Leading expert in Environmental Law and Planning Law (2012).
Environment, Planning & Property
Compulsory Purchase, Transport & Works orders:
- Highways, listed building, environmental, planning, regeneration and land assembly, public inquiries and High Court cases.
- Major Infrastructure projects including expansion of airports, rail, nuclear power stations and IPC related matters.
- Barnsley BC – Town Centre CPO.
- Birmingham CC – City Centre and Road CPOs.
- Department of Transport – Roads and Motorway CPOs.
- Gateshead BC – Metro Centre, Housing and clearance CPOs.
- Leeds CC – River Aire and City Centre CPOs.
- London – Olympic CPO for Newsfax.
- Luton BC – Luton–Dunstable Guided Busway.
- Middlesbrough BC – Land Assembly, Housing and Town Centre CPOs.
- ONE North East – Darlington, Newcastle.
- Newcastle CC – Grainger Town, City Centre, Grey Street Conservation Area and Listed Buildings, and River Tyne CPOs.
- Redcar BC – Town Centre CPO.
- Stockton BC – Town Centre CPO.
- Yorkshire Forward – Barnsley Town Centre CPO.
Environmental Cases & Public Inquiries cases:
- Air Pollution (e.g. aviation emissions control, opencast coal mines, and chemical plants).
- Carbon trading (e.g. aviation offset – advice to TAG).
- Chemical plants erection, safety and risk assessments, use and demolition.
- Ecology (e.g. Llanishen SSSIs, public inquiries and High Court cases for WPD).
- Entertainment and other licensing (e.g. Reading Rock Festival, Royal Albert Hall, residents’ association Islington London).
- Storage, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste.
- Noise nuisance, licensing and control under EPA 1990, planning and licensing legislation (e.g. Royal Albert Hall licensing JR).
- Recycling, control and minimisation of waste (e.g. advice to Worcestershire Waste Collection and Disposal authorities).
- Waste Incinerators and Waste Disposal (Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Liverpool Knowsley, Telford – adviser to private clients and public sector authorities).
Planning Inquiries, Planning Advice & High Court cases:
- Acted for numerous private and public sector clients and cases from large to small size.
- Casinos (e.g. Stanley Casinos Earls Court Kensington and Chelsea).
- Education (e.g. development of new Pathfinder schools for Bromley LBC + JR).
- Employment development (e.g. Ashford extension, CB1 and CUP sites Cambridge, Leeds regeneration sites, Newcastle City Centre and River Tyne, for private developers and public authorities).
- Housing – North of England (e.g. Durham, Spennymoor, Sunderland, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, for Barratt Newcastle), Wales (e.g. Llanishen Cardiff for WPD), Southern England (Ashford for GRE, Bognor Regis for Berkeley Homes, Newbury for West Berks Council, Newbury Racecourse Ltd), East Anglia () and individual private clients).
- Heritage and culture (e.g. Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas, Ancient Monuments and World Heritage Sites).
- Major Infrastructure projects including expansion of airports, rail, nuclear power stations and IPC related matters.
- Minerals (e.g. coal, sand and gravels, rock, fullers earth and other minerals extraction and recycling).
- Regeneration (e.g. for Councils listed under CPOs above).
- Sports and leisure and tourism development (e.g. stadia and academies for Chelsea FC, Derby County FC, Sunderland FC, golf courses and holiday parks, indoor and outdoor leisure development).
- Retail (Asda, J Sainsbury, Morrisons, Waitrose and other food superstore developments, retail warehouses, and other forms of retail development).
- Transportation (e.g. road orders, Luton guided busway).
Other cases of note include:
- RAF Northolt Airport (R (London Oxford and Biggin Hill Airports) v Secretary of State for Defence, Secretary of State for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority) – 2013 Judicial Review brought on behalf of London Oxford and Biggin Hill Airports against MoD, DfT and CAA concerning Minister’s decision to increase commercial movements.
- Dunsfold Park ltd v (1) Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government (2) Waverley Borough Council (2013) – July 2013, Planning – Aviation- Airports : Ancillary use : Certificates of Lawful Use : Planning Permission.
- Long, R (on the application of) v Monmouthshire County Council & Anor – Nov 2012, Planning appeals – High Court.
- Dunsfold Park – Jul 2012, Planning inquiries.
- Trad Scaffolding Co Ltd (R on the application of) v London Thames Gateway Development Corporation – Nov 2011, Judicial review.
- The London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (Bromley By Bow)(South) Compulsory Purchase Order – Sep 2011, Planning inquiries.
- Corporation of the Hall of Arts and Sciences v The Albert Court Residents’ Association – Apr 2011, Licensing, Planning appeals – High Court, Judicial review.
- TAG Farnborough Airport Ltd – Jul 2010, Planning inquiries.
- Albert Court Residents Association & Ors, R (on the application of) v Corporation of the Hall of Arts & Sciences – Mar 2010, Judicial review.
- R (on the application of The Governing Body of the Langley Park School for Girls) v Bromley LBC and The Governing Body of the Langley Park School for Boys – Feb 2009, Planning appeals – High Court, Judicial review.
- J. Mawle and others v West Oxfordshire District Council – May 2007, Planning appeals – High Court.
- Western Power Distributions Investments Ltd, R (on the application of) v Countryside Council for Wales – Jan 2007, Judicial review.
- Regina (Bushell and Others) v Newcastle upon Tyne Licensing Justices and Another – Feb 2006, Licensing.
- Coventry Airport Inquiry – Jan 2006, Planning inquiries.
- R (Persimmon Homes (South East) Ltd and another) v Secretary of State for Transport – Jan 2005, Judicial review, Aviation.
- Morbaine Ltd (2) Roberts (Abigail) v (1) First Secretary of State (2) Stoke on Trent City Council (3) Lear Management Ltd (2004)
Jul 2004, Planning appeals – High Court.
- R (on the application of Bushell & Others) v Newcastle Licensing Justices & Others – Jul 2004, Licensing, Environmental impact assessment.
- R (on the application of I’m Your Man Ltd) v North Somerset Council – Feb 2004, Planning appeals – High Court.
- Coppergate II retail development – Jan 2004, Planning inquiries.
- Stevenage West – Jan 2004, Planning inquiries.
- R (Jones) v Mansfield District Council – Oct 2003, Environmental impact assessment, Judicial review.
- R (on the application of Mount Cook Land Ltd and another) v Westminster City Council – Oct 2003, Judicial review.
- Sunderland Football Club Academy of Light – Sep 2003, Planning inquiries.
- R (on the application of Crichton and another) v Wellingborough Borough Council – Dec 2002, Environmental impact assessment, Judicial review.
- Sullivan v Warwick District Council – Dec 2002, Planning inquiries, Judicial review.
- R (on the application of Medway Council and others) v Secretary of State for Transport – Nov 2002, Planning appeals – High Court, Judicial review, Aviation.
- Hithermoor Waste Disposal Inquiry – Oct 2002.
- London International Exhibition Centre, ExCel – Aug 2002, Planning inquiries.
- Derby County Football Club Academy – Feb 2001, Planning inquiries.
Aviation & Aerospace
Significant cases include:
- London City Airport (planning application for expansion)
- London Oxford Airport (legal adviser)
- London Battersea Heliport (legal adviser)
- Barraud v CAA (airspace changes)
- Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports (advice on policy and development, public inquiries).
- Major Infrastructure projects including expansion of airports.
- Birmingham International Airport (Expansion and opposing Coventry airport expansion).
- Coventry Airport (BIA).
- East Midlands Airport (NW Leics Council).
- TAG Farnborough Airport.
- Northolt Aerodrome (Judicial Review).
- Warton Aerodrome (Advice to BAe Systems).
- Fairoaks, Henstridge, Old Sarum, Sheffield, Turweston and other General Aviation aerodromes.
- Airspace reorganisation by NATS (TC North) including Judicial Review.
- Airports White Paper– adviser to British Airways.
- Airports White Paper consultation – quashed in High Court after JR.
- Aviation regulation and licensing – adviser to CAA, British Business and General Aviation submissions to EU Commission.
- Gama Aviation Group (Appointed legal adviser).
- Cambridge Airport (Appointed legal adviser).