Richard Harwood OBE QC

Year of call:

+44 (0)20 7832 1111

“He is technically very good and can grasp technical evidence very quickly. At inquiry his cross-examination is absolutely forensic- the best I’ve ever seen”
Chambers & Partners

“He knows planning and environmental law inside out and has a really nice manner that appeals to clients.”
Chambers & Partners

Richard Harwood OBE QC specialises in planning, environment and public law, acting for developers, landowners, central and local government, individuals and interest groups. He appears in the courts, inquiries, examinations and hearings, including frequently in the Planning Court and appellate courts. Voted as one of the top ten Planning Silks in Planning magazine’s surveys, he has appeared in many of the leading cases of recent years. Richard is also a leading commentator, a case editor of the Journal of Planning and Environment Law and the author of books including Planning Enforcement, Historic Environment Law and Planning Permission.

His public law work includes local government, procurement and funding decisions. Richard has appeared before Parliamentary committees on the last three railway Bills. He also deals regularly with art law, particularly with a regulatory focus.

Richard is a member of the Northern Irish Bar and the Bar Library, Belfast.

Environment, Planning & Property

“He knows planning and environmental law inside out and has a really nice manner that appeals to clients.” Chambers & Partners


Advocacy and advisory work on all aspects of the planning process for developers, local planning authorities, statutory bodies and local interests.

General Planning Court Work

Acted in over 250 planning cases in the Administrative Court. Major court cases include Newlyn Dean v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2014] EWCA Civ 193 (Green Belt), R(Holder) v Gedling Borough Council [2014] EWCA Civ 599 (Green Belt) R (Majed) v London Borough of Camden [2010] JPL 621 (legitimate expectation), R (Prudential Assurance Co Ltd) v Sunderland City Council, [2011] JPL 322 (retail), R (McCarthy) v Basildon DC [2011] EWHC 2938 (Admin) (Dale Farm travellers) R (Woolley) v Cheshire East Borough Council [2010] JPL 36 (bats) and litigation on Spitalfields Market, Battersea Power Station, Bishopsgate Goods Yard and eco-towns.

Inquiries, examinations and hearings

Appears regularly in planning inquiries and hearings for developers, local authorities and 3rd parties.  These inquiries include retail, housing, minerals and waste projects and development consent order examinations (A30 dualling).

Development Plans and policies

Acted in eleven concluded development plan challenges and appeared in development plan examinations.  He has promoted the Surrey’s Minerals and Waste Plans through lengthy examinations and the Spelthorne Core Strategy. Cases include R (RWE Npower Renewables Ltd) v. Milton Keynes Council [2013] EWHC 751 (Admin) on supplementary planning documents.

Environmental Impact Assessment/Strategic Environmental Assessment

Richard is one of the leading lawyers on EIA and SEA issues. His major cases include R (Mellor) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government C-75/08 [2010] Env LR 2 (reasons), R (SAVE Britain’s Heritage) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2011] EWCA Civ 334 [2011] CMLR 48 (demolition) Heard v Broadland District Council [2012] Env LR 23 (SEA alternatives), R(Champion) v North Norfolk District Council [2013] EWCA Civ 1657 (habitats pollution)

Historic Environment

Acts extensively in historic environment matters, including over 50 Administrative/Planning Court cases on conservation areas, listed buildings, scheduled monuments, registered gardens and battlefields. Cases include the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle house (R(Gibson) v Waverley BC), the Greenside inquiry for English Heritage, R (Friends of Hethel) v South Norfolk District Council [2011] JPL 192, R(Embleton Parish Council) v Northumberland County Council [2014] Env LR 16 and numerous cases for SAVE Britain’s Heritage.

Environmental Law

Richard acts in the full range of environmental matters.  Recent cases include the Elvington Park abatement notice litigation, Hirose Electrical UK Limited v Peak Ingredients Limited [2011] Env LR 34 (private nuisance), R v O’Grady Plant and Haulage Limited [2011] Env LR 30 (waste offences) and permitting hearings.

Compulsory Purchase and Compensation

Richard acts for acquiring authorities and claimants in compulsory purchase inquiries and the Lands Chamber.  Recent work includes promoting several major CPOs for industrial, town centre and residential schemes and compensation for road, rail and redevelopment schemes.

Renewable Energy

Acts in the full range of waste matters from planning policy and applications, environmental permitting to waste prosecutions. Major cases include the five Newhaven and Hull EfW High Court cases, Smout v Welsh Ministers [2011] Env. L.R. 17, (modification orders on landfill site) and R(Treagus) v Suffolk County Council  [2013] Env. L.R. 36 (anaerobic digestor)

Administrative & Public

Public and Local Government

General judicial review and advising on public authority powers. Richard’s particular expertise include a £1 billion public contracts High Court claim, local authority vires, standards and probity (including the last Upper Tribunal case on councillor standards) and members’ allowances. He also acts in highways and rights of way matters.


Appears in Private and Hybrid Bill proceedings. Richard advises on and drafts amendments to Public Bills, including the Planning Act 2008, and has drafted two Private Members’ Bills. He appeared before Select Committees on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill and the Crossrail Bill and is instructed on High Speed 2.

Art Law

Advises the art market, the major auction houses, owners, interest groups and regulators on art and antiquities matters, in particular real property/chattels issues, listed building consent, faculties, treasure and export control. Advised on the export of City of Adelaide, a Victorian clipper.


Acts in Administrative Court proceedings, public inquiries and advisory work on energy projects under the Planning, Electricity Act and Gas Act regimes.  These include gas power stations, carbonc apture and storage, windfarms (over 20 cases in the High Court) and underground gas storage.

Aviation & Aerospace

Richard’s aviation planning experience includes the Manchester Airport Second Runway and Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield inquiries and safeguarding issues at other UK airports.  He is acting in the helicopter noise nuisance case: Peires v Bickerton’s Aerodromes Ltd [2016] Env LR 27.

Central Government

Richard acts for Ministers and government agencies and has provided training for civil servants, English Heritage and Planning Inspectors.


Acts in Planning Court proceedings, public inquiries and advisory work on energy projects under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Planning Act 2008, Electricity Act 1989 and Gas Act 1968 regimes. These include gas power stations, onshore oil and gas (including fracking), carbon capture and storage, wind turbines (over 30 cases in the High Court), solar and underground gas storage.


Acts in the full range of infrastructure projects and consent regimes including road schemes, development consent orders, Transport and Works Act orders, railway Bills and the Harbours Act. He advised Ministers on the Thames Tideway Tunnel and defeated the four judicial reviews brought against that scheme.

Local Government

Richard regularly acts for and against local authorities, including in vires, governance, standards and procurement matters.  He has appeared in many of the major cases on local authority decisionmaking, including Bovis Homes v New Forest District Council  [2002] EWHC 483 (Admin) (bias), R(Berky) v Newport City Council [2012] 2 CMLR 44 (bias), R(Friends of Hethel) v South Norfolk Council [2011] 1 WLR 1216  (majority voting), R(Champion) v North Norfolk District Council [2013] Env LR 38 (functions and responsibilities), R(Trillium Prime Property) v London Borough of Tower Hamlets [2011] EWHC 146 (Admin) (urgent meetings), R(Vieira) v London Borough of Camden [2012] EWHC 287 (Admin) (consultation with councillors) and Younger Homes Northern v First Secretary of State [2005] Env LR 12 (delegation arrangements). Having acted in the last councillor conduct case in the Tribunal, he deals regularly with probity matters.  He has acted in High Court procurement challenges, including on development agreeements and compulsory purchase. His local government work is informed by having served as a councillor and an adviser to the Local Government Association.


Environment/Planning Junior of the Year at the Chambers Bar Awards 2011.
Ranked as one of the top 10 Planning Silks in the Planning Magazine survey 2014.
Finalist for ‘Barrister of the Year’ at the Lawyer Awards 2006.
Recommended by Legal 500  as a leading silk in Administrative and public law, Energy, Environmental Law and Planning Law.
Recommended by Chambers UK as a leading silk in Art & Cultural Property Law, Local Government law, Environmental Law and Planning Law.


“He’s an absolute expert in heritage matters.” “A highly intelligent individual who has an immediate grasp of the issues in a case.”  Chambers & Partners 2017

“He is exceptional and is a man of enormous distinction.” “He is very good in that he speaks the language of heritage people.” Chambers & Partners 2016

“An absolute master at getting to grips with detail and technical evidence.” Legal 500 2015

“Excellent at quietly and methodically taking apart opposing witnesses.” Legal 500 2015

“A go-to barrister for energy-related environmental and planning disputes.” Legal 500 2015

“He is technically very good and can grasp technical evidence quickly. At inquiry his cross-examination is absolutely forensic – the best I’ve ever seen.” Chambers & Partners 2015

“He knows planning and environmental law inside out and has a really nice manner that appeals to clients.” Chambers & Partners 2015

“He is good technically, and with clients and in cross-examination.” Chambers & Partners 2015

“He is good at finding points to run and he is tenacious in his approach to cases.” Chambers & Partners 2015

“A man with a keen intellect who applies great attention to detail. He is extremely affable and pleasant to work with, as well as highly competent.” Chambers & Partners 2014

“He has a track record most people would give their right arm for, especially on environmental impact work.” Chambers & Partners 2014

“He is very committed, takes a very hands-on approach and steers his way through tricky judicial reviews.” Chambers & Partners 2014

“His arguments are very straightforward and very logical, and he is well respected in the profession.” Chambers & Partners 2014

“He is an extremely intelligent man and easily works out which points will make a difference.” Chambers & Partners 2014

“Is singled out for his ‘ability to handle complex and strategically challenging cases” Legal 500 2013

“friendly and easy to deal with” Legal 500 2013

“Continues to impress observers with the quality of his very full local government, environment and planning law practice” Chambers & Partners 2012

“incredibly good in planning related judicial reviews”
Instructing Solicitors are in awe of his “amazing application of case law and innovative thinking”
“often a first choice for planning matters with a heavy environmental theme”
Chambers & Partners 2011

highly respected for his acumen in matters relating to pollution prevention and control (PPC), environmental impact assessment (EIA) and contaminated land
Chambers & Partners 2010
noted for the sheer number of cases he picks up Chambers & Partners 2010

popular with all sides of the market” Chambers & Partners 2008
a persuasive and formidable opponent” Chambers & Partners 2008

an effective advocate and skilled tactician” Legal 500 2009
particularly good at advisory work” Legal 500 2009

Call +44 (0)20 7832 1111 for more information

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