“Paul is a particularly persuasive advocate, brilliant in both cross-examination and submissions.”
Chambers & Partners 2020
Paul Stinchcombe QC was called to the Bar in 1985 and built up a substantial practice in planning, public and environmental law before becoming an MP in 1997. After returning to the Bar in May 2005, Paul rapidly re-built his practice and was elevated to Queen’s Counsel within 6 years.
Having successfully argued one of the most important planning cases in recent years – Hunston Properties  EWCA Civ 1610, the first judicial decision on “objectively assessed housing needs”, Paul has since appeared in several leading Court of Appeal cases on the issue.
Paul has also appeared in some of the largest Planning Inquiries regarding housing proposals in the country, acting both for and against developers. He promoted “Drake Park”, a proposed development of over 1,000 homes in the Surrey Green Belt; he resisted, on behalf of Joint Parish Councils, a new settlement at Dunsfold Park, also in Surrey; and he has acted on behalf of Local Planning Authorities in over a dozen multi-day Inquiries over recent years, resisting thousands of homes pending the replacement of Local Plans.
More recently, Paul has been promoting Local Plans himself, addressing leading edge issues as to how to meet housing needs whilst protecting gaps between settlements, ancient woodland and habitats – including whether, when assessing the likely impacts of a Local Plan, one can take into account matters over which the Local Planning Authority has no control – such as the predicted decreases in nitrogen pollution as a result of Government support for electric cars.
He has also acted in numerous other high profile Court of Appeal and High Court challenges on topics of national importance – including the tension between Government proposals to expand aviation whilst simultaneously committing itself to a net zero target for carbon emissions; and the extent to which permitted development rights to install telephone kiosks can be exercised by advertising companies.
Paul was shortlisted for “Real Estate, Environmental and Planning Silk of the Year” at the Legal 500 UK Bar Awards 2018.
Paul graduated from Cambridge University with a Double First in Law and from Harvard Law School with a Masters, having won a Frank Knox Fellowship. In 2005, Paul was elected as a Visiting Fellow to Cambridge University’s Centre of Public Law.
Planning, Environment & Property
Planning Law Cases
Paul has recently appeared in the following High Court and Court of Appeal cases on important points of planning law and related areas of public law:
- New World Payphones Ltd. v Westminster City Council [Appeal No: C1/2019/0430]; on appeal from.  EWHC 176 (Admin), in a high profile case concerning the permitted development rights to install telephone kiosks which are also used for illuminated advertising.
- CPRE (Surrey) and POWCampaign Ltd v Waverley Borough Council, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Dunsfold Airport Ltd  EWCA Civ 126, on appeal from  EWHC 2969 (Admin), concerning the extent to which Plan-makers need to investigate unmet housing needs outside their area before adopting a housing requirement to meet the same.
- Eastleigh Borough Council v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government  EWHC 1862 (Admin), concerning the planning balance to be applied when a housing application breaches policy and the Local Planning Authority can demonstrate a five year housing land supply.
- Hallam Land Management v SSCLG and Eastleigh Borough Council  EWCA Civ 1808;  EWHC 2865 (Admin), leading Ned Helme in a case concerning the proper approach to gap policy and whether an exact calculation of housing land supply is required.
- R ((1) Ross and (2) Sanders (on behalf of Stop Stansted Expansion)) v (1) Secretary of State for Transport; (2) Stansted Airport Limited (CO/3131/2018) leading Richard Wald in a case concerning the proper approach to construing the Planning Act 2008 relating to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects in the field of aviation expansion, and whether the Government policy to make best use of existing runways can be lawfully reconciled with its net zero target for carbon emissions under the Climate Change Act 2008.
- William Davis (and Others) v. Charnwood Borough Council  EWHC 3006 (Admin), concerning the differences between “Development Plan Documents” (which can only be adopted by a Local Planning Authority after independent examination) and “Supplementary Planning Documents (which can be adopted after consultation only, and without independent examination).
- R (Government of the Republic of France) v Kensington and Chelsea Royal London Borough Council  1 WLR 3206, leading Ned Helme for the Government of the Republic of France in a case concerning the scope of certificates of lawfulness under section 191 and 192 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and section 26H of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
Cases of Note:
- R (Gibson) v. Waverley Borough Council  EWHC 3784 (Admin), leading Ned Helme in a second challenge against a decision to redevelop the house in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Hound of the Baskervilles.
- St Albans DC v. SSCLG & Ors  EWHC 655 (Admin), acting for STRiFE Ltd., leading Ned Helme in a section 288 challenge to the grant of permission for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange near St Albans.
- R (Tesco Stores Limited) v. (1) Forest of Dean District Council (2) Asda Stores Limited and Others  EWCA Civ 800;  EWHC 3348 (Admin), successfully appearing for Asda (when the Council did not appear), defending the Council’s decision to grant planning permission for an Asda superstore in Lydney; and thereafter successfully defending the decision (with Jonathan Darby) in the Court of Appeal and on behalf of the landowner when neither the Respondent nor any other Interested Party appeared to resist the appeal.
- R ((1) Peter Sanders (2) Brian Ross) v. (1) Airports Commission (2) Secretary of State for Transport  EWHC3754 (Admin), leading Ned Helme in a high profile apparent bias judicial review relating to the workings of the Airports Commission, the body tasked by the Secretary of State for Transport with addressing the heated issue of aviation expansion in the UK.
- Hunston Properties Limited v. (1) Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and (2) St Albans City and District Council  EWCA Civ 1610 (on appeal from  EWHC 2678 (Admin)), leading Ned Helme in a successful and landmark challenge against an Inspector’s decision to refuse planning permission for 132 dwellings on a Green Belt site, the first case on the proper interpretation of paragraph 47 of the NPPF and the assessment of housing needs following the revocation of Spatial Strategies.
- R (Skinner and Alvarado) v. London Borough of Haringey,  EWHC 1475 (Admin), leading Ned Helme in successfully resisting an application for judicial review of a planning permission and conservation area consent granted for a comprehensive redevelopment of a key regeneration site at Wards Corner (off Tottenham High Road in London).
- Avon Estates Ltd v. Welsh Ministers & Ceredigion County Council  EWHC 1796 (Admin), successfully defending an Inspector’s decision to refuse to grant a Certificate of Lawfulness in respect of a proposed use of holiday homes in a holiday park as unrestricted dwellings.
- R (Gibson) v. Waverley Borough Council  EWHC 1472 (Admin), leading Ned Helme in a successful challenge against a decision to redevelop the house in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Hound of the Baskervilles (for which Paul was named ‘Lawyer of the Week’ in the Times). The judgment was described by English Heritage as “the principal case law on the question of optimal viable use” in respect of heritage assets.
- Vallis v. The Secretary of State for Local Government  EWHC 578 (Admin), a successful challenge against a decision which would have required the demolition of an historic barn.
- Trad Scaffolding Co. Ltd. v. London Thames Gateway Development Corporation  EWHC 314 (Admin), in which Paul successfully defended the planning permission for a new town centre, including superstore, housing and a school.
- Avon Estates Ltd v. Welsh Ministers & Ceredigion County Council  EWCA Civ 553,  EWHC 1759 (Admin), concerning the extent to which planning conditions restricting the use of a holiday park can have legal effect after the expiry of the permission to which they were attached.
- Stop Pyestock Blot Act Today (SPLAT) v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 1520 (Admin), challenging the decision to grant consent for a huge logistics park contrary to the Inspector’s recommendation.
- Sumner v. Secretary of State  EWHC 372 (Admin), concerning the lawful use to which a building can be put when erected without permission and time has expired within which the building might be enforced against.
- Hutchinson v. Secretary of State  EWHC 304 (Admin),  EWCA Civ 1494, concerning the interpretation of national Green Belt policy and the capacity of Local Authorities to rewrite its concepts.
- Barbone and Ross v. Secretaries of State  EWHC 463 (Admin), a challenge to the decision to permit 10 million additional passengers a year at Stansted Airport.
Environmental Law Cases
Cases of Note:
- R (Corrie) v. Suffolk County Council  All ER (D) 214 (Jul);  EWHC 2490 (Admin), successfully defending the decision of the Waste Authority to grant itself planning permission for a new waste facility, in which it was held that it would be contrary to the conduct of good administration and legal certainty for a claimant to hold off from challenging a screening direction of the Secretary of State, thereby leaving a local planning authority in the position where it had no choice but to act in accordance with that direction, only to seek later to impugn the decision to grant planning permission on the basis that it was flawed.
- R (Karen Treagus) v. Suffolk County Council  EWHC 950 (Admin), successfully resting an application for judicial review of a planning permission granted for an anaerobic digestion plant.
Compensation and Tribunal Cases
Cases of Note:
- Bishopsgate Parking and Powerfocal v. The Welsh Ministers  UKUT 22 (LC) where Paul successfully represented the Welsh Ministers in a £90m Lands Tribunal claim following a compulsory acquisition of land in Cardiff City Centre.
- Block Stone Ltd. v. English Heritage LCA/5/2006, acting for English Heritage in a £3m Lands Tribunal claim in respect of a refusal to renew a mining consent near to a Scheduled Monument.
- Ocean Leisure Ltd v. Westminster City Council  EWCA Civ 970, a leading compensation case involving claims for loss caused to a business by hoardings obstructing the highway.
- Wildtree Hotels Ltd v. Harrow London Borough Council  2 AC 1, another leading compensation case involving claims for loss caused to a business, this time by noise and dust.
Promoting Local Plans
Paul has considerable experience of promoting Local Plans and the reconciliation of meeting housing needs whilst protecting designated habitats and valued landscapes, and is currently leading Ned Helme in the examinations of:
- Wealden District Council Local Plan 2013-2028.
- Eastleigh Borough Council Local Plan 2016-2036.
Promoting Large-Scale Development
Paul has considerable experience of promoting large-scale development, often acting for major house builders:
- Paul promoted “Drake Park”, a garden village development of up to 1,024 residential units on a Green Belt site in Elmbridge, Surrey.
- Paul has successfully promoted many substantial developments including:
- 69 dwellings and a 60 bed care home on a Green Belt site in Waverley, Surrey;
- 200 dwellings in Lydney, obtaining an expedited decision within 5 days of the Inquiry in order to secure grant funding for the development;
- 132 dwellings on an unallocated countryside site in Hayling Island, next to an AONB, SSI and SPA;
- a 60m tower of student accommodation, designed by Piers Gough RA CBE, on a gateway site to the Wembley Regeneration Area;
- 62 apartments in North London;
- Bespoke “grand design” houses in the South Downs National Park (6,000 sq.ft each), and in both Kensington & Chelsea in Hampstead (the latter two designed by Richard Reid).
- Immediately before taking silk, Paul promoted a 580 house development in East London.
Resisting Large-Scale Development
Paul has a considerable track record of representing campaign groups resisting large-scale developments and infrastructure:
- Aviation: Paul appeared for “Stop Stansted Expansion” in the 49 day 2007 Inquiry against the expansion of Stansted Airport.
- Urban Extension: Paul represented “Stop Pyestock B” Act today, resisting 133,000 sq.m of development in a Strategic Gap.
- Eco-Town: Leading Ned Helme for “Stop Dunsfold Park New Town” in the first Planning Inquiry into an eco-town, Paul successfully resisted 2,600 homes and 60,000 sq.m of commercial floorspace.
- New Town: Leading Victoria Hutton, Paul appeared on behalf of ten “Joint Parish Councils” on a related proposal (to the above eco-town) for 1,600 homes.
- Strategic Railfreight Interchange: Having successfully resisted a 330,000 sq.m interchange on a 72ha site Green Belt site in a 2007 Inquiry for “STRiFE”, Paul led Ned Helme in a repeat Inquiry in 2009.
Paul has recently appeared in a dozen Planning Inquiries for a Local Planning Authorities resisting in excess of 3,000 homes pending the replacement of Local Plans and the establishment of a 5-year supply of housing.
Administrative & Public
Local Government Cases
Cases of Note:
- R (Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum) v. Wycombe District Council  EWCA Civ 228;  EWHC 513 (Admin), representing Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum in a landmark case, the first to consider the Neighbourhood Planning provisions of the Localism Act 2011.
- R (Kings Cross Railway Lands Group) v. LB Camden  EWHC 1515 (Admin), affirming the right of Local Authorities to change their mind on planning applications after a change of political control.
Human Rights Cases
Having served for several years on the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, upon returning to the Bar Paul has appeared in two Court of Appeal cases concerning the application of the Human Rights Act to the Acquisition of Land Act.
Cases of Note:
- O’Connor v. Wiltshire County Council  EWCA Civ 426.
- Thomas v. Bridgend County Borough Council  EWCA Civ 862.
Art & Cultural Property
Paul has considerable experience in advising and appearing in cases raising heritage and cultural issues, both at Inquiry and in the Court. These include Vallis v The Secretary of State for Local Government  EWHC 578 (Admin), a successful challenge against a decision which would have required the demolition of an historic barn, followed by further success at the resultant reheard Inquiry; and two judicial reviews attempting to protect the listed house in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Hound of the Baskervilles (R (Gibson) v Waverley Borough Council  EWHC 1472 (Admin) and R (Gibson) v Waverley Borough Council  EWHC 3784 (Admin). The first Conan Doyle case was described by English Heritage as “the principal case law on the question of optimal viable use” in respect of heritage assets and saw Paul named ‘Lawyer of the Week’ in the Times.
Paul has been recommended as a Leading Silk in Planning Law by Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500 for many years. Recent quotes include:
“He is very responsive, to the point, and offers clear guidance.” Chambers & Partners 2019
“Paul is an exceptional and charming advocate. He is adept at getting straight to the crux of the matter and advising succinctly.” Chambers & Partners 2018
“Able to quickly grasp the salient facts and develop a logical strategy.” The Legal 500 2019
“His strengths include: a deep knowledge of planning law and practice; an ability to absorb information quickly and research matters at high speed; and a facility of expression in describing relevant factors of a case.” The Legal 500 2017