Jack Smyth - Planning & Environment
Legal 500 awarded Jack the prestigious honour as "Legal 500 UK Regional Junior Barrister of the year" 2018. Its Judges noted:
"2017 was Smyth's tenth year of call and he continues to punch above his weight across a number of practice areas. He frequently acts for prominent clients such as Secretaries of State and makes frequent successful appearances in the higher courts"
Jack was also rated as a Top Tier grade 1 barrister in Planning law in the Midlands in 2017.
Jack has been appointed by the Attorney General as Junior Counsel to the Crown for the Midlands (formerly known as the Treasury Solicitors' Panel). As a result, he frequently finds himself in the High Court defending the decisions of Inspectors.
Jack is known as a personable advocate who has developed a broad practice acting on behalf of local planning authorities, appellants and residents’ groups. Recent planning inquiries this year include promoting residential development in Aylesbury and defending local planning authorities at housing appeals which turn upon issues of 5-year housing land supply, heritage, landscape and urban design.
He has a particular interest in statutory nuisance. He offers training to local planning authorities on how to best enforce in this notoriously complicated realm of law. He is frequently asked to advise in respect of High Court challenges by way of judicial review and section 288 appeals. He is accommodating in providing advice and pleadings at short notice in order to meet the exacting time limits for such cases.
He has accrued particular experience and interest in gypsy/traveller and wind farm development. He has experience successfully representing Councils and residents¹ groups in resisting gypsy/traveller sites. He has represented residents¹ groups in two high profile gypsy cases in the Midlands which have both featured on Midlands Today and in the national press.
He has a great amount of experience successfully obtaining injunctive relief in respect of unauthorised breaches of planning control. He regularly finds himself in the High Court for injunctions and is used to advising at short notice and undertaking emergency injunctions. Last year he has had a long-running injunction in respect of the illegal tipping of over 150,000 tonnes of waste on land in the Green Belt. Jack successfully obtained 2 injunctions to require the removal of the waste and one of the defendants was committed to prison for 9 months for contempt.
Jack has a strong track-record of successfully resisting wind farms appeals and is familiar with advising Councils before the matter proceeds to committee. He has won 6 out of the last 7 windfarm cases he was instructed. Recently, Jack successfully represented a local planning authority at a 2-week windfarm inquiry, where the appeal site abutted the Cotswolds AONB. Further, he defeated a windfarm proposal following a lengthy inquiry on the grounds that it would have an unacceptable impact on the residential amenity of a single dwelling.
Jack is experienced with dealing with residential development appeals. He frequently finds himself representing Councils at inquiries against well-resourced appellants and their silks. In 2013, he represented a residents' group at a long-running 11-week inquiry concerning 3 conjoined appeals for the urban extension of Aylesbury. All four of the other parties were represented by Leading Counsel and their Junior. He won. It was satisfying to note that the Secretary of State dismissed the appeal on a narrow basis of unacceptable harm arising from a proposed highway interchange - a point not pursued by the Council and advanced solely by the residents' group.
Jack has a particular interest in areas of planning which touch upon built heritage. He has recently completed a 2-week inquiry against a Silk on behalf of a residents' group resisting the demolition of a large building in a conservation area to make way for a large supermarket development. The appeal was dismissed. Last year an appeal for residential development within the setting of a listed mill was refused. This followed a hard-fought inquiry where Jack represented the Council against a leading silk.
Jack is regularly instructed in enforcement matters. He is experienced in advising on paper, appearing at inquiries as well as involving himself in criminal proceedings. Last summer, following a robust and unforgiving cross-examination of an appellant by Jack on behalf of the Council, the witness confirmed that she and her husband had lied in their statutory declarations. Jack has successfully prosecuted defendants in 2 jury trials. Jack is also adept at dealing with breaches of planning control which touch on the built heritage, in particular, conservation areas.
Last year, Jack successfully defended the owner of a listed farmhouse who was being prosecuted for undertaking unauthorised works to the listed building. Taking what appeared at first blush, a hopeless case, Jack advised on disclosure. After a request was put to the local planning authority, the prosecution was quickly discontinued.
Jack has been led by a Silk at an urban extension inquiry and has recently been led in the Court of Appeal successfully resisting a judicial review of the grant of permission for the redevelopment of a rugby club. Jack frequently finds himself in the High Court in respect of claims challenging the lawfulness of grants of planning permission on behalf of members of the public and local authorities.
Jack also has experience of undertaking Village Green inquiries and advising on CPOs.
Jack has lectured on the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanction Act 2008.
He has also lectured to post-graduate students at the University of Birmingham on planning issues.
Articles & Publications:
Article in the Local Government Lawyer entitled 'Injunctions: a no-brainer? The quickest, easiest, cheapest and most effective way to enforce compliance'.
How to Prosecute a Breach of an Enforcement Notice: A Practical Guide
Listed Building Prosecutions: A Practical Guide
- Degree in Politics from the Durham University, First Class Honours
- Graduate Diploma of Law, with Distinction
- Middle Temple; awarded the Jules Thorn Scholarship (2006)
Until September 2017, Jack had an unblemished record of success in the Higher Courts. he has suffered only one defeat.
Banghard v Bedford Borough Council  EWHC 2391 (Admin): provides guidance on how local planning authorities should exercise their discretion to decline to determine a planning applications pursuant to s.70C of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
Daventry District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC (Admin) 1555: successfully represented the Secretary of State against a section 288 claim. The case turned on the lawfulness of the Inspector's decision which followed a written representations procedure where the parties had failed to tell the Inspector that the LPA's Local Plan had been adopted. The Judge, whilst finding that the Inspector had reached his decision on an erroneously unlawful basis, exercised his discretion not to quash the planning permission on the basis that the claimant LPA had been incompetent and contributed to the error by failing to inform the Inspector of the important change.
R (oao Headcorn Parish Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government et al EWHC 1158 (Admin): successfully represented the Secretary of State against a claim for permission to pursue a judicial review. The case turned on the lawfulness of the Secretary of State's screening opinion. In particular, the manner in which the screening opinion addressed the effects of the proposed residential development on the highway and a SSSI
Whitby v Secretaries of State for Transport and Communities and Local Government and Network Rail Infrastructure Limited  EWCA Civ 444: successfully represented the Secretaries of State in the Court of Appeal [led by Richard Kimblin QC]. This is the first reported case on the proper meaning and interpretation of paragraphs 132 and 133 of the NPPF in respect of justifying harm to heritage assets.
Malvern Hills District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Jones  EWHC 2244 (Admin): successfully represented the District Council in its section 288 appeal to quash an Inspector's decision. The appeal centred around the proper interpretation to policies of an out of date Local Plan.
Crane v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Harborough District Council  EWHC 425 (Admin): successfully represented the District Council upon the claimant's section 288 appeal to quash the Secretary of State's decision to afford "very substantial negative weight" to an identified breach of a Neighbourhood Plan. This was one of the first challenges to the Secretary of State's flagship localism policy.
Hampton Bishop Parish Council v Herefordshire Council  EWCA Civ 878: led by a Silk in the High Court and later the Court of Appeal, the claim to quash the grant of planning permission was successfully resisted. The case provides useful guidance on the extent to which off-site benefits can reasonably be regarded as material considerations to which the CIL regulations apply.
Gilbert v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Harborough District Council et al  EWHC 1952: successfully represented the District Council in the High Court and Court of Appeal upon the claimant's judicial review to quash the Secretary of State's screening decision and the Council's grant of planning permission. The case revolved around the proper interpretation of the EIA regulations and whether the noise arising from vehicles using the former World War II airfield at Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire was likely to have significant environmental effects.
Greaves v Boston Borough Council  EWHC 2237 (Admin): successfully represented a local authority in resisting an application to quash a grant of planning permission for a single wind turbine. The case turn on the lawfulness of a noise condition. Following an appeal to the Court of Appeal, the claim was dismissed.
Bedford Borough Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Mrs K Brown QBD (Admin) 25 March 2014 (Lawtel): represented the Council in its section 288 challenge and successfully persuaded the High Court to quash an Inspector's decision in a gypsy case on the grounds that the Inspector had made an error of law by rejecting the Council's Gypsy Traveller Accommodation Assessment.
Chambers UK 2018
"A good advocate who is very good in injunctions and injunction breach work. He is becoming a go-to barrister for regulatory enforcement by local authorities." "He is excellent and provides timely advice. He responds very quickly on matters even before I've formally instructed him."
Legal 500 2017
Rated as top tier I in the Midlands: "A junior with a niche interest in statutory nuisance law"
Chambers UK 2017
"His planning expertise is second to none, especially for someone so junior. He's a confident advocate, clients are always happy, and I can't fault him." "He has clarity of thought, engages well, is really interested in the case and makes it easier as a result of his good insight into matters. He is also incredibly quick."
Chambers UK 2013
Though able to turn his hand to multifarious planning law matters, the up-and-coming Jack Smyth has already made a name for himself in Gypsy and Traveller cases. Recent examples of his work include the Meriden and Beausale Gypsy cases.
Chambers & Partners 2012
Jack Smyth has been pegged as "a star of the future" by interviewees. He is recognised for his gypsy and traveller work as well as his experience in planning inquiries.