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Thomas Hill KC

"He puts all his energy into a case, absorbing vast amounts of detail quickly and providing succinct advice."

"His advice is always of excellent quality, and he is a seasoned advocate." 

Thomas Hill KC has 35 years' experience in the fields of planning, environmental, compulsory purchase and related administrative law. He is regularly instructed at public inquiries, hearings and examinations and in the High Court, acting for a wide variety of developers, local authorities and third party clients.

He has had a long term interest in the development and application of planning and environmental law, since studying both at Cambridge University. His extra-legal interests also encompass many of those directly relevant to practice in this field, including architecture and design, stewardship of the natural and built environments, the practice of agriculture and the development renewable energy and he has an extensive working library at his disposal.            

His practice at the Bar has for many years encompassed advocacy and advisory work in relation to major infrastructure - with particular emphasis on the airport (runway and terminal expansion ), port (container port proposals, HROs and harbour dues litigation) and energy sectors (biofuels, EfW, wind and solar energy). He is also very familiar with the full range of issues relating to residential development (including both bringing forward strategic greenfield sites and complex brownfield redevelopment opportunities).

Work of note includes appeal and advisory work for several UK airports and ports, for Birmingham City Council on its Development Plan over many years, the promotion of strategic land allocations for estate and developer clients, numerous section 78 appeals for residential developers and housing associations, as well as appeal and advisory work for many private individuals, with particular emphasis on projects with complex design issues in London. Many of his clients have been instructing him regularly for over 25 years. He enjoys the cut and thrust of inquiry work, but is equally at home advising on long term strategy or conducting cases in the more nuanced environment of the public examination.

Tom has, for many years, been recognised as a Leading Silk for Planning work by Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500.

Areas of expertise

Planning and Environment

“He has the element of passion needed to excel in the planning world. His ability to see the wood for the trees makes him ideal for inquiry work” Chambers and Partners

"Trusted on all planning-related matters, and clients appreciate his precision, success rate and good sense of humour.” Chambers and Partners

Urban Regeneration

Having appeared at various times for 7 of the former Urban Development Corporations, Tom Hill's practice has from its earliest days embraced advisory and inquiry work involving urban regeneration proposals across the country. He has promoted regeneration schemes in Teesside, Tyneside, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and most recently a variety of mixed use proposals in East and South London in areas such as Hackney and Charlton Riverside in Greenwich. This work has also frequently involved the use of compulsory purchase powers. He is advised and acted for Birmingham City Council, one of the largest local authority areas (by population) in Europe, in relation to its adopted Birmingham Development Plan and the bringing forward of development in accordance with this plan.


He has acted for most of the national house builders including Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon, Berkeley, Barratt and Bellway and also for some of UK's leading Housing Associations, including London and Quadrant, Family Mosaic and Notting Hill. He is familiar with the presentation of cases both at section 77/78 inquires and in a development plan context. He is very familiar with the range of issues which arise in relation to brownfield development sites and has extensive experience of public inquiry work involving mixed use schemes and complex design issues. He also has extensive experience of settling and testing evidence in relation to scheme viability.

Strategic Land

Tom Hill has been acting for strategic land clients for many decades, often advising from the earliest stages when land is being considered for promotion as an urban extension or new settlement, carefully reviewing site boundaries for potential Green Belt releases after detailed site inspection, advising on the assembly and robustness of evidence base material, settling Hearing  Statements  and acting at Public Examinations. He has promoted strategic allocations for a variety of developer and estate clients, such as Hallam Land Management, Bloor Homes, Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon, Miller, Bellway and Commercial Estates Group. He is advising Gascoyne Cecil Estate on plans for a new garden village and urban extensions at Hatfield in Hertfordshire and is currently acting for Homes England in relation to its proposals for 5-6,000 new homes at Heathlands Garden Community between Maidstone and Ashford in Kent.               

Minerals / Waste

Tom Hill has promoted and objected to minerals and waste local plans and appeared at many inquiries into significant minerals and waste development (including 10 separate instructions involving high temperature incineration).

He also receives frequent instructions in relation to environmental law matters and compulsory purchase and compensation.



“renowned expert in airport-related work” Chambers and Partners

He successfully promoted the Second Runway at Manchester Airport and he continues to advise MA Group on a variety of matters at Manchester, Stanstead and East Midlands Airports. He has also represented Newcastle Airport and the owners of Birmingham Airport at major inquiries and is fully conversant with development and airspace issues at London and regional airports.

He led the successful High Court challenge to the proposals for Stansted and Luton Airports in the Government’s Air Transport White Paper in 2005. He subsequently appeared for Manchester Airports Group in R (on the application of  Ross & Saunders v. Secretary of State for Transport [2020] EWHC 226 (Admin), which explored the correct interpretation of “nationally significant infrastructure project” in relation to airport development, in which the Court upheld the construction contended for by MAG. He has appeared at all the major inquiries in the past 20 years relating to the capacity of Stansted Airport, including the 2021 appeal which led to the consent for an additional 8 million passengers per annum capacity at that Airport.


Historically, Tom Hill appeared at all three of the major container port inquiries in the UK: Dibden Terminal (for objectors), London Gateway/Shellhaven and Bathside Bay (both for the Environment Agency) and is familiar with all matter relating to and supporting container port development. He has also appeared for and advised numerous port and harbour authorities across the country on a variety of development and regulatory issues. He has acted for Langstone Harbour Board and successfully defended its review of harbour dues at the first public inquiry to be held into an appeal pursuant to section 31 of the Harbours Act 1964. He went on to for Dover Harbour Board in relation to its dispute with its operators, the result of which was that the Harbour Board's dues were upheld after a month-long inquiry.

Aviation and Aerospace

Thomas Hill KC has been advising on all aspects of airport related development for 35 years. He is the only practising Member of the Bar of England and Wales to have acted in relation to the promotion of a new full length runway in the UK from inception to completion (Manchester Airport’s Second Runway). He has promoted and objected to airspace change proposals on behalf of various clients and understands the three dimensional world of airspace regulation.    

Energy and Natural Resources

Energy has been a consistent feature of Tom Hill’s practice for many years, since he appeared for Teesside Development Corporation at the inquiry into the routeing of new 400 kV overhead power lines through Teesside and North Yorkshire.

He is fully conversant with relevant law and policy in relation to renewable energy and with practical issues such as those which arise in relation to Energy from Waste and Combined Heat and Power proposals.

He has successfully promoted renewable energy plants at appeal, including the Avonmouth Bio fuel Plant and a Biomass Plant at Port Talbot.

He has appeared at a number of inquiries into wind energy proposals in the North East, including the major conjoined inquiry into the Green Rigg, Ray and Steadings wind farm proposals in Northumberland. He is familiar with applications under both planning legislation and section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989. He has developed particular expertise in cases involving the impacts of wind turbine development on aviation interests, in particular impacts on primary surveillance radar.

Since their initial publication and subsequent revision, he has lectured on the Energy NPSs.


  • “very astute and incisive advocate who argues clients’ cases effectively” Chambers and Partners
  • “charming, tough and highly effective opponent, [He has} a winning style which chimes well with inspectors" Chambers and Partners
  • “is good on the strategy side, wins the client’s confidence from the off” and “operates well under difficult circumstances.” Chambers and Partners
  • “Urbane, authoritative and a strong cross-examiner” Chambers and Partners
  • “a solid awareness of clients’ needs, an ability to set out advice cogently, persuasively and authoritatively and a refreshingly relaxed working style” Chambers and Partners
  • "Accessible and friendly, he is extremely personable and has a good eye for detail.” “I was impressed by his detailed approach and analysis – he was well prepared.” Chambers and Partners
  • “He is thorough, reassuring, careful and measured” Chambers and Partners
  • “He has a special expertise in the area of renewable energy development as well as aviation matters.” Chambers and Partners
  • “His advice is always of excellent quality, and he is a seasoned advocate.” The Legal 500
  • “can hold his own in any forum against any counterpart and has an astonishing ability to get to the rub of matters very quickly” The Legal 500