Hugh Richards was called to the Bar in 1992 having spent 12 years in the Army and read International Politics at the Universities of Wales (Aberystwyth) and California (Santa Barbara). His practice includes planning, environment and rights of way matters at inquiry and in the courts for developers, landowners, local authorities and government agencies. He has particular experience and expertise in housing, NSIP, energy, waste, development plan making, gypsy and travellers and ‘EIA Regulations’ issues. He talks regularly at seminars on a variety of topics including ‘legal updates’, localism, energy and housing planning policy, development plan making, NSIPs, giving evidence at planning inquiries, planning committee training and gypsy and traveller issues.
He is a school governor, multi-academy trust director, military museum trustee and a keen amateur actor and singer. He obtained planning permission to build his own house in the Green Belt
Local Development Framework / Plan Making: Landowner: housing allocations in Hertfordshire, Cheshire East, Sussex, Lichfield, Birmingham, Cardiff, Central Bedfordshire
- Developer: resisting allocations in minerals and waste local plan to prevent impact on housing site
- Sedgmoor Core strategy: acting for LA in respect of policies relating to housing, employment land, roads, community facilities and planning obligations relating to the proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point
- Somerset authorities: SPD for new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point
- Landowner: sustainable urban extension to Oxford
- Developer: promoting new settlement of Northstowe in South Cambridgeshire Core Strategy, Area Action Plan and Development Control policies DPDs
- Leicestershire Minerals and Waste Core Strategy: advised LA
- Derby City Local plan: advised LA
- Solihull MBC: Local Plan, Gypsy and Traveller Core Strategy policies and site allocations DPD
Local Plan examinations for North West Leicestershire DC, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council
Planning Applications / Development Management:
- Developer: schemes of up to 500 houses in Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Nottinghamshire, Cheshire, Berkshire, Solihull; small schemes in ‘back gardens’; barn conversions, extensions, agricultural dwellings, holiday caravan parks;
- Local Authority: schemes of up to 5,000 houses in Derbyshire, Worcestershire, Wiltshire, Sussex, ; ‘live-work’ units in Warwickshire; rural/village extensions;
- Issues included: ‘EIA Regulations’, ‘Habitats Regulations’ Appropriate Assessment, ‘5 Year Supply’; affordable housing; highways, contributions in planning obligations; world heritage site, conservation areas and listed buildings, AONB.
- Care Homes / Villages: for developer in Gloucestershire, Derbyshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire;
- Local Authority: Superstores in Worcestershire, Nottinghamshire, Cornwall; food stores in Leicestershire, Derbyshire. Out-of-town retail park in Northamptonshire.
- Energy from Waste: EfW incinerators for Local Authority in Derbyshire, Shropshire and Leicestershire. For objectors in Hertfordshire (impact on important heritage assets)
- Employment: offices in West Midlands, industrial units in Cheshire and Staffordshire, multi-modal storage and distribution in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire
Gypsies and Travellers:
- For Local Authorities in Solihull (Meriden site).Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Flintshire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Wiltshire
- For Gypsies and Travellers in the South West
- Minerals: Quarries for developers in Staffordshire and Lincolnshire; ROMP applications.
- Education: securing permission for a new school in the green belt.
- Leisure: quarry restoration to leisure park in Staffordshire
Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects
- Hinkley Point C nuclear power station – Local authorities
- Wylva nuclear power station – Local authority
- Keuper underground gas storage – Local Authority
- Trunk road alteration – Local authority.
Enforcement / Lawful use:
- Gypsy and Traveller sites (as above)
- Lawful use by ‘10 year rule’ and commencement of development authorised by planning permission.
- Development in breach of condition (including ‘conditions precedent’)
- Judicial Review of grants of planning permission on grounds including: inadequate consultation, procedural unfairness, defects in EIA process (screening, scoping, content of ES), failure to identify and apply policies in the development plan, failure to consider material considerations, legality of conditions, defects in planning obligation procedure and content, adequacy of ‘summary reasons’ for the grant.
- Judicial review of designation of conservation areas and listing of buildings.
- Injunctions – particularly relating to gypsies and travellers including those in the green belt; non-compliance with enforcement notices; breach of planning conditions.
- Applications under s288 and s289 TCPA to quash appeal decisions relating to development management, lawful use and enforcement.
- Applications under s113 to quash DPDs (or parts thereof).
- City centre regeneration in Birmingham – objector
- Urban regeneration in Northampton – objector
- Urban ring road in the Midlands – promoter
- Large regeneration project in the South West – promoter
- Town Centre regeneration in the Midlands – objectors
- Road schemes in Staffordshire - promoter
- Definitive Map modification
- Town / Village Green registration
- School Governance and Admissions
He has been consistently recommended for Planning work in the Chambers UK Guide to the Legal Profession:
“Sound practitioner.” “He works incredibly hard and works well with his clients.”
Chambers UK 2020
“Experienced in a wide range of planning and infrastructure matters.”
Legal 500 2020
“He gives clear and pragmatic advice about solutions.” “Very approachable and easy to deal with.”
Chambers UK 2019
“A steadfast cross-examiner.”
Legal 500 2019
Has wide-ranging planning experience, which includes handling High Court litigation and public inquiry work. He acts for both local authorities and developers. He is noted for his adept handling of infrastructure and energy matters, with particular expertise in nuclear projects. He also regularly handles planning matters pertaining to residential development. “He has got a good knowledge of the city and of local plan review, and a very good rapport with clients. The quality of advice and speed of response is very good. His manner easily gets the confidence of the client.” “A forceful advocate who looks after clients’ interests very effectively.”
Chambers UK 2018
“He inspires confidence in his team and he will get right to the point in a case and get it across nicely and firmly. He just inspires confidence.” “He is a forceful advocate and looks after his clients’ interests very effectively.”
Chambers UK 2017
Commended by sources for his wide-ranging experience acting for all sides on planning matters. His instructions involve energy and infrastructure, waste and housing matters. “He is a committed advocate who is very good at talking things through. He gets into his cases, and often looks at things from different angles.” “He acts with character: he is engaging, and it is stimulating to work with him. He will up the tempo in an inquiry. A very astute, experienced player.”
Chambers UK 2016
NICOLA SQUIRE (Claimant) v SHROPSHIRE COUNCIL (Defendant) and MATTHEW J BOWER (Interested Party)
The court upheld a local authority’s grant of planning permission to a farmer to build premises for the intensive rearing of poultry on his farm and to spread the poultry manure as a fertiliser on his agricultural land. It was clear that the planning committee had properly assessed both the on-site and off-site effects of the proposed development, including the Environment Agency’s power to control the impact on residential amenity of dust and odour from the manure spreading.  EWHC 1730 (Admin)
R (on the application of PAUL HOUSIAUX) (Claimant) v STAFFORDSHIRE MOORLANDS DISTRICT COUNCIL (Defendant) and LAVER LEISURE LTD (Interested Party)
PLANNING - The Court upheld a local authority’s grant of planning permission, rejecting criticisms of the content of the officers’ report.  EWHC 2157 (Admin)
HOPKINS HOMES LTD v (1) SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES and LOCAL GOVERNMENT (2) SUFFOLK COASTAL DISTRICT COUNCIL : CHESHIRE EAST BOROUGH COUNCIL v (1) SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES and LOCAL GOVERNMENT (2) RICHBOROUGH ESTATES PARTNERSHIPS LLP (2017)
The Supreme Court’s leading judgment on the interpretation and application of the NPPF.  UKSC 37
BDW TRADING LTD (T/A DAVID WILSON HOMES (CENTRAL, MERCIA and WEST MIDLANDS)) v (1) SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES and LOCAL GOVERNMENT (2) STAFFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL (2016)
When upholding the refusal of planning permission for a housing development, the planning inspector had adhered to her duty under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 s.38(6) to make the decision in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicated otherwise.  EWCA Civ 493
WILTSHIRE COUNCIL v (1) SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES and LOCAL GOVERNMENT (2) HERON LAND DEVELOPMENTS LTD (3) GALLAGHER UK LTD (4) GALLAGHER ESTATES LTD (2015)
The court granted a declaration that a planning inspector had erred in law in failing to consider a material consideration when granting planning permission for residential development. To quash the planning inspector’s decision would be unfair to the property developers, who would be disadvantaged through no fault of their own.  EWHC 1459 (Admin)
R (on the application of LUTON BOROUGH COUNCIL) (Claimant) v CENTRAL BEDFORDSHIRE COUNCIL (Defendant) and HOUGHTON REGIS DEVELOPMENT CONSORTIUM and 4 ORS (Interested Parties) (2015)
Paragraph 83 of the National Planning Policy Framework, requiring exceptional circumstances to be shown before a proposal to alter the boundaries of a green belt in a local plan was allowed, did not lay down a presumption or create a requirement that the green belt boundaries had first to be altered via the process for changing a local plan before development might take place at that site. Paragraphs 87 and 88 of the NPPF plainly contemplated that development might be permitted on land within the green belt, without the need to change its boundaries in the local plan, provided that “very special circumstances” existed.  EWCA Civ 537
WILTSHIRE COUNCIL v (1) SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES and LOCAL GOVERNMENT (2) HERON LAND DEVELOPMENTS LTD (3) GALLAGHER UK LTD (4) GALLAGHER ESTATES LTD : WILTSHIRE COUNCIL v (1) SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES and LOCAL GOVERNMENT (2) S COOPER (2015)
A grant of planning permission was quashed where the planning appeal inspector had failed to take into account a material consideration, namely a report which dealt with the assessment of housing needs. That had been a main issue in the appeal, and the report had cast doubt upon a previously perceived housing supply deficit.  EWHC 1261 (Admin)
BDW TRADING LTD (T/A DAVID WILSON HOMES (CENTRAL, MERCIA and WEST MIDLANDS)) v (1) SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES and LOCAL GOVERNMENT (2) STAFFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL (2015)
In refusing planning permission for a residential development, a planning inspector erred by failing to consider whether the development accorded with the planning authority’s local development plan as required by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 s.38(6) and R. (on the application of Hampton Bishop PC) v Herefordshire Council  EWHC 3947 (Admin).  EWHC 886 (Admin)
R (on the application of LUTON BOROUGH COUNCIL) (Claimant) v CENTRAL BEDFORDSHIRE COUNCIL (Defendant) and HOUGHTON REGIS DEVELOPMENT CONSORTIUM and 4 ORS (Interested Parties) (2014)
A local authority failed in its challenge to the decision of a neighbouring authority to grant planning permission for a substantial urban extension on 262 hectares of green belt including up to 5,150 dwellings, retail units and other uses.  EWHC 4325 (Admin)
FEENEY v (1) SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT (2) CHILTERN RAILWAY CO LTD (3) NATURAL ENGLAND (2013)
The Secretary of State for Transport had been entitled to take into account a proposed planning condition requiring a scheme of assessment, predictions and monitoring of the effects on air quality of a new railway passing close to a special area of conservation and to conclude that the effect of the condition was that it was not necessary to carry out an “appropriate assessment” under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 reg.61.  EWHC 1238 (Admin)
R (on the application of TWS) (Claimant) v MANCHESTER CITY COUNCIL (Defendant) and FC UNITED LTD (Interested Party) (2013)
Where, in an application for planning permission for a sports stadium, the applicant had merely indicated in general terms how often it expected the stadium to be used, it was not irrational or unlawful for the local authority to grant permission without adding an express condition as to the maximum number of days and hours of use.  EWHC 55 (Admin)
ESMOND JENKINS (Claimant) v GLOUCESTERSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL (Defendant) and (1) MORETON C CULLIMORE (GRAVELS) LTD (2) COTSWOLD WATER PARK SOCIETY (3) ENVIRONMENT AGENCY (Interested Parties) (2012)
A local planning authority which had granted planning permission for the extraction of minerals at a quarry in an area prone to flooding had breached the publicity requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 reg.19 in relation to an “Advisory Note” provided by a firm of consultants proposing flood-mitigation measures.  EWHC 292 (Admin)
GREYFORT PROPERTIES LTD v (1) SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES and LOCAL GOVERNMENT (2) TORBAY COUNCIL (2011)
Access works carried out by a company as part of a property development scheme could not constitute a lawful implementation of a planning permission where they had been carried out in breach of a planning condition. They therefore fell squarely within the principle set out in FG Whitley and Sons Co Ltd v Secretary of State for Wales (1992) 64 P. and C.R. 296.  EWCA Civ 908
R (on the application of IAN FRAZER ENGLISH) (Claimant) v EAST STAFFORDSHIRE BOROUGH COUNCIL (Defendant) and NATIONAL FOOTBALL CENTRE LTD (Interested Party) (2010)
There was no procedural irregularity or perversity in a decision of a planning committee granting permission for the erection of 28 houses. The non-disclosure of a financial report that was commercially sensitive submitted by the applicant for planning permission and review of that report by the local authority was not procedurally unfair.  EWHC 2744 (Admin)
R (on the application of MIDCOUNTIES CO-OPERATIVE LTD) (Claimant) v (1) WYRE FOREST DISTRICT COUNCIL (Defendant) (2) TESCO STORES LTD and SANTON GROUP DEVELOPMENTS LTD (Interested Party) (2010)
A condition as to maximum floor space attached to a planning permission for a supermarket development was not uncertain, nor did it result in the applicants being granted more than they had sought.  EWCA Civ 841
R (on the application of MIDCOUNTIES CO-OPERATIVE LTD) (Claimant) v (1) WYRE FOREST DISTRICT COUNCIL (Defendant) (2) TESCO STORES LTD and SANTON GROUP DEVELOPMENTS LTD (Interested Party) (2009)
A planning condition setting out the maximum floor space of a supermarket was not uncertain.  EWHC 964 (Admin)
Planning and Environment Bar Association.
National infrastructure Planning Association.