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Barrister - satnam choongh

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Satnam Choongh - Planning & Environment

Satnam Choongh was called to the Bar in 1994 and is a member of Lincoln’s Inn, where he was a Hardwicke Scholar and held the Sir Thomas More Bursary. He specialises in planning and environmental law, acting for developers, local authorities and government agencies. He has worked as in-house counsel, and has a thorough knowledge of all aspects of the planning process, as well as experience of advising upon the commercial aspects of land development (to include negotiating and drafting s.106 agreements, option agreements, overage agreements and allied contracts). 

Satnam holds a First Class Honours degree, a D.Phil from Trinity College, Oxford and has worked as a Professor of Law at Birmingham University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 

Satnam features regularly in the Chambers UK Directory, which has described him as “very sharp”, “extraordinarily bright” and someone “who gets the answers he needs from cross-examination”. Planning Magazine has placed him amongst the top planning juniors in the country. 

Satnam has considerable depth and breadth of experience: he appears at planning and associated inquiries, prosecutes and defends environmental and planning offences in the criminal courts, and acts for both appellants and planning authorities in applications for judicial review and statutory challenges in the High Court. He has dealt with the whole range of issues which arise in this area of law, including matters related to listed buildings, Conservation Areas, Green Belt, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, major infrastructure projects under the Transport and Works Act 2000, out of and edge of centre retail stores, Enforcement, Stop, Breach of Condition and Completion Notices, Compulsory Purchase Orders, Advertisement Control, minerals, and matters related to waste disposal and management. 

Satnam has appeared in a host of large scale, complex and varied planning cases, including promoting a 3.5 million square feet rail-freight interchange in the Green Belt; opposing an application for a 58 hectare resource recovery park and 95MW RDF Incinerator under the Electricity Act; representing an LPA at the first ever LDF examination; opposing the expansion of Coventry Airport in a 6 month enforcement inquiry followed by a 3 month s.76 Inquiry; appearing at Waste Local Plan inquiries; representing the Highways Agency at a six month multi-party planning inquiry for MSA development; representing the HSE in an inquiry into de-commissioning a nuclear power station in the Snowdonia National Park, and drafting and seeing through to public inquiry a Side Roads Order and CPO to provide a town centre ring road. 

Satnam has in the recent past advised and represented at inquiry clients such as Persimmon Homes, KFC, ASDA, Gallagher Developments, Richborough Estates, the Rosconn Group, St. Modwen Developments and Gladman Developments. Inquiries have included promoting edge of centre retail development in Bridgnorth, opposing open cast coalmining in Derbyshire and Windfarms in Warwickshire, and appearing at a whole host of large scale residential and mixed-use inquiries in support of developer clients.

Lands Tribunal, High Court, Court of Appeal

Satnam has appeared in many of the most important recent cases interpreting key provisions of the NPPF, as well as cases relevant to other important concepts in the administration of the planning system.  Examples include: 

South Gloucestershire Council v Burge and Burge [2017] EWCA 1313 (extent of compensatory regime for losses arising from refusal of TPO consent)

East Staffs BC v SSCLG and Barwood Strategic Land Ltd [2017] EWCA Civ 893 (ambit of the NPPF presumption in favour of sustainable development)

Woodfield v JJ Gallagher Ltd [2016] EWCA Civ 1007 (irrationality in adoption of local plan and extent of court’s powers to order adoption of a particular policy)

IMI Properties v Lichfield DC [2015] EWHC 2077  (Admin) (and see [2014] EWHC 240 (Admin)) (correct procedure for challenging development plans; releasing GB through the plan process); 

Mackman v SoSE [2015] EWCA Civ 716 (EIA and screening opinions); 

Bloor Homes v SoSCLG [2014] EWHC 754 (Admin) (correct approach to 5 year housing land supply; meaning of plans being silent or absent etc); 

Hopkins v SoSE [2014] EWCA Civ 470 (procedural fairness at planning inquiries); 

JB Trustees v SoSCLG [2013] EWHC 3555 (Admin) (locus in statutory challenges);

William Davis v SoSCLG [2013] EWHC 3058 (Admin) (how to apply the NPPF para.14 presumption); 

Telford and Wrekin v SoSCLG [2013] EWHC 1638 (Admin) and [2014] EWCA Civ 507 (application of the retail sequential test and correct interpretation of CIL);  

R (on the application of Telford Trustee No.1 /No.2) v Telford and Wreakin Council and Asda Stores Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 896 (the duty to give reasons for planning permission); 

R (on the application of Welcome group Limited and others) v Stroud District Council and another (2012) EWHCA 140 (admin) (meaning of the CIL regulations); 

Herefordshire District Council v White (a Lands Tribunal case that helped clarify the Purchase Notice provisions of the 1990 Act); 

Norris v SOSE and Stoke on Trent City Council [2006] EWCA Civ.12 (developed the law on the important subject of development in breach of condition precedent); 

Attorney- General’s Ref. No.5 of 2000 ([2002] Env.LR 5 at 139) (Court of Appeal case on the complex matter of defining “waste” in European Union Law); 

Micro Designs Ltd v Barratt Homes Limited (High Court and Court of Appeal case on the interpretation of overage provisions).

Advisory Work

Satnam has a prodigious paper practice, and regularly advises both developers and local planning authorities on all matters related to planning, waste, highways, judicial review and statutory challenges. He regularly advises one of the “Big Four” retailers in respect of all retail matters, including judicial review and statutory challenges. Examples of advisory work include:

• advising the three Somerset planning authorities on a range of issues arising from the construction of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station; 
• Advising two district councils on the meaning of the Local Plan Regulations 2004 and 2012 and the scope of their ability to adopt DPDs, SPGs and non-statutory guidance;
• Advising on whether potential national food chain operation fell within A1 or A3/5;
• Whether a series of planning permissions on a retail park had inadvertently brought about an unrestricted A1 use;
• Whether community facility protection policies apply to site where community facility previously stood;
• Distinction between C2 and C3 uses in respect of Assisted Living Units;
• Advising on accessibility issues in respect of 700 dwelling planning application;
• Advising and settling JR proceedings in respect of ES issues in respect of “Big 4” retail challenge;
• Advising LPA on how to approach determination of 2 competing retail schemes in the context of PPS4 practice guidance;
• Advising and settling JR proceedings challenging ability of LPA to determine replacement application under DMPO;
• Advising on 64 bed care home application in context of employment land protection policies;
• Advising on uplift agreement which raised issues of interpretation of CLUED. 

Further Experience

Legal Research Fellow Warwick University
In-house advocate, Eversheds Solicitors, Birmingham
Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong
Professor and Director of the Centre for Professional Legal Education at Birmingham University


Planning units, New Chapters in Planning History and Inconsistent Permissions (2009) Journal of Planning Law
Development in Breach of Conditions Precedent (2007) Journal of Planning Law
The Meaning of Waste in EU Law (2006) Journal of Planning Law


LLB (Hons) (First Class) Warwick; 
D.Phil (Oxon) 1994


Planning and Environmental Bar Association


"He has a very keen mind. He produces very well-reasoned opinions and material which addresses the issues. He's an extremely friendly and approachable person and I think he strikes a great affinity with clients - they have always been impressed with his work." "Satnam is excellent in all areas, and his production of written material is particularly compelling."
Chambers UK, 2016


"Particular strength in residential, retail, waste and infrastructure matters."
Legal 500 2015

Frequently instructed on complex residential and retail mandates, with impressive experience in waste developments. Sources point to his persuasive advocacy and thoughtful approach."He's a superb cross-examiner - he really punches above his weight." "He's excellent. He's very solid and he really knows his stuff. I'm always confident in his advice, and he's robust when he needs to be - a very sound advocate."
Chambers UK 2015

"Strong in residential, waste, infrastructure and retail matters."
Legal 500 2014

"He always works well with the team, spots strengths and weaknesses in cases, and identifies a very clear case strategy." 
Chambers 2014

‘Thorough and insightful’ junior Satnam Choongh is ‘good at complex areas of planning law’. 
Legal 500 2013

Satnam Choongh is "criminally underrated as an advocate" in the view of one particularly impressed client, who draws attention to his "sharp legal mind" as well as his "diligent and precise questioning, which gets the answers he needs from cross-examination." Infrastructure, waste and residential matters are Choongh's forte.
Chambers UK 2013

“Satnam Choongh acts for developers, local authorities and government agencies at all stages of development, from inquiry to judicial review in the High Court. Peers say that he is “extraordinarily bright with a steady manner. He doesn’t need to shout because he knows how to speak sense”.”
Chambers UK 2011 

With significant expertise in environmental and administrative law, Satnam Choongh has acted for several local authorities and government agencies, as well as many major private developers. Sources highlight Choongh's ability to inspire confidence in his clients at every single stage of the planning process.
Chambers UK 2010