James Corbet Burcher - Planning & Environmental Law Barrister
James Corbet Burcher is a specialist planning barrister.
In 2018, he was voted the No.1 rated planning junior under 35 years and No.9 planning junior overall in Planning Magazine’s Annual Planning Law Survey:
“A very intelligent and very capable advocate”
Chambers and Partners Bar UK records him as an Up & Coming Junior for Planning in the Midlands Region:
“He has an extensive knowledge of the legal system…Extraordinarily detailed and very thorough." 
“An up-and-coming junior frequently highlighted for his client- friendly approach who is developing a strong reputation in the market…He has a good style and intellectual approach…He is very capable and very keen." 
James is a member of the Planning and Environmental Bar Association’s (PEBA) Committee, and sits on the Bar Council as PEBA’s representative.
He is a qualified Advocacy Tutor with Lincoln’s Inn.
PLANNING COURT AND APPELLATE WORK
James has appeared in over 30 cases before the Planning Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, both led and unled.
This includes many recent cases on the interpretation of the National Planning Policy Framework, culminating in the successful appearance in the Supreme Court for Richborough Estates in Suffolk Coastal DC v Hopkins Homes  UKSC 37.
A full list of his court cases is set out below.
PLANNING INQUIRIES AND HEARINGS
James has appeared at over 40 planning inquiries and hearings.
In 2013-14, he acted for Pinewood Studios Ltd securing planning permission for film studios development on 46ha of Green Belt land (as junior to Martin Kingston QC).
Examples of recent inquiry work in 2018 include:
- Securing planning permission for 141 dwellings at Hanslope, Milton Keynes for Davidsons Homes (unled);
- Appearing on behalf of Peel Investments, promoting residential development (600 dwellings) at Broadoak, Salford (as junior to Martin Kingston QC);
- Acting on behalf of Rockspring and St Congar promoting residential development (850 dwellings) at Thorp Arch, Leeds (as junior to Chris Young).
LOCAL PLAN EXAMINATIONS
James advises regularly on the promotion of sites through the local plan process, especially in the context of strategic planning in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and West of England.
He has also appeared in three s113 challenges to Local Plans and is consequently well-versed in the legal and policy frameworks concerning housing numbers, the duty to cooperate, site assessent and strategic environmental assessment.
He has recently advised on the Consultation Draft Text of the NPPF and the implications for site promotion.
NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN EXAMINATIONS
James is one of the leading junior barristers working in the field of neighbourhood planning.
In the last four years, he has advised on a total of more than 60 neighbourhood plans at all stages of development. He has appeared at 8 neighbourhood plan hearings and in several of the judicial review challenges in this field.
The majority of his work in this field is for housebuilders and development promoters, whom he assists with detailed written representations covering the “basic conditions”, site assessment, strategic environmental assessment and procedure.
Work for community groups includes acting for Central Milton Keynes Town Council in the major called-in inquiry concerning a town centre retail development in 2016.
OTHER SECTOR INTERESTS
Prior to coming to the Bar, James carried out research on post-war London planning history to postgraduate level. This grounding in the historical development of the British planning system informs all of his professional work today.
James has a particular interest in the development of planning legislation and policy to promote and support new technologies (PropTech, PlanTech) and in international comparative land use law (notably in the USA, France and Germany).
He is working towards qualification as a Legal Associate of the Royal Town Planning Institute
BA(Hons) Modern History (First Class), Magdalen College, University of Oxford
Mst Modern History, Magdalen College, University of Oxford
CPE (Distinction), City University
LLM (Distinction), University College London
BPTC, BPP (London)
University of Oxford:
Demy (Full College Academic Scholarship) Oxford Half-Blue, Modern Pentathlon
Hardwicke Entrance Award Lord Bowen Scholarship Lord Mansfield Scholarship Sunley Pupillage Award
UKELA Moot: Winner of both Senior and Junior Competitions
Planning and Environmental Bar Association (PEBA)
UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA)
National Infrastructure Planning Association (NIPA)
Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA)
Council for Tall Buildings in the Urban Habitat (CTBUH)
International Planning History Society (IPHS)
Richborough Estates v SSCLG  EWHC 33 (Admin)
Forest of Dean DC v Wright  EWCA Civ 2102
St Modwen v SSCLG  EWCA Civ 1643
Verdin (t/a The Darnhall Estate) v SSCLG  EWHC 2079 (Admin)
Baroness Cumberlege of Newick v SSCLG and DLA Delivery  EWHC 2057 (Admin)
East Staffordshire BC v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWCA Civ 893
R(Williams) v Powys CC  EWCA Civ 42
(1) Suffolk Coastal DC v Hopkins Homes and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government; (2) Cheshire East BC v Richborough Estates Partnership LLP and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  UKSC 37
DLA Delivery Ltd v Lewes DC  EWCA Civ 58
Trustees of the Barker Mill Estates v Test Valley BC  EWHC 3028 (Admin)
East Staffordshire BC v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 2973 (Admin)
R(Kebbell Developments Ltd) v Leeds City Council  EWHC 2664 (Admin)
R(Flint) v South Gloucestershire Council  EWHC 2180 (Admin)
Stryjak v Hounslow LBC  EWHC 1897 (Admin)
R(Wright) v Forest of Dean DC  EWHC 1349 (Admin)
St Modwen Developments Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 968 (Admin)
Richborough Estates Partnership LLP and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government v Cheshire East BC  EWCA Civ 168
Cheshire East BC v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Renew Land Developments  EWHC 571 (Admin)
R(Williams) v Powys County Council and Bagley  EWHC 480 (Admin)
R(Dudfield) v Forest of Dean DC  EWHC 291 (Admin)
West Berkshire DC v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and HDD Burghfield Common Ltd  EWHC 267 (Admin)
R(DLA Delivery Ltd) v Lewes DC  EWHC 2311 (Admin)
IM Properties Development Ltd v Lichfield DC  EWHC 2077 (Admin)
Kings Lynn and West Norfolk BC v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Elm Park Holdings  EWHC 2464 (Admin)
IM Properties Development Ltd v Lichfield DC  EWHC 1982 (Admin)
Wychavon DC v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and North Oak Homes Ltd  EWHC 761 (Admin)
Crane v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 425 (Admin)
R(Gladman Developments Ltd) v Aylesbury Vale DC  EWHC 4323 (Admin)
R(IM Properties Development Ltd) v Lichfield DC  EWHC 2440 (Admin)
R(Jones) v English Heritage  EWHC 2259 (Admin)
Zurich Assurance Ltd v Winchester City Council  EWHC 758 (Admin)
South Northamptonshire Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Barwood Homes Ltd  EWHC 570 (Admin)
R(Scottish Widows Plc) v Cherwell DC  EWHC 3968 (Admin)
“Commended by sources for his adept handling of planning matters involving assets of community value and for his work in neighbourhood planning and residential development matters. He represents developers, as well as local planning authorities in public inquiries and planning appeals.” "He has an extensive knowledge of the legal system and is very well versed on Neighbourhood Plans." "Extraordinarily detailed and very thorough."
Chambers UK 2018
"He has a good style and intellectual approach." "He comes back very quickly, lets you know what he is doing and doesn't leave you hanging. He is very capable and very keen."
Chambers UK 2017