James Corbet Burcher is a specialist planning barrister.
He has appeared on Planning Magazine’s Annual Planning Law Survey throughout his time in practice (1st Junior Under 35 in 2018 and 9th Junior in 2019).
Chambers and Partners Bar UK records him as a Band 1 Junior for Planning in the Midlands Region, with sources describing:
“He’s fantastic on the law with an extraordinary level of enthusiasm.” “Very diligent and client-focused.” 
“Incredibly intelligent and hard-working, and an impressive advocate.” “A sincere and very committed member of the Bar.” 
“A very good junior with an excellent grasp of what’s important. He’s wonderful to work with.” “Highly intelligent.” 
“He has 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. He sits on the Bar Council as PEBA’s representative, as well as the Bar Council Legal Services Committee and IT Panel.
He is a qualified Advocacy Tutor with Lincoln’s Inn.
Planning Court and Appellate Work
James has appeared in over 40 cases before the Planning Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, both led and unled.
He has been instructed in many of the court challenges involving the interpretation of the National Planning Policy Framework, especially the presumption in favour of sustainable development. He acted for Richborough Estates in the Suffolk Coastal Supreme Court case  UKSC 37 and for Wavendon Properties in their successful s288 challenge:  EWHC 1524 (Admin).
A full list of his court cases is set out below.
Planning Inquiries and Hearings
James has appeared at over 50 planning inquiries and hearings.
Examples of recent inquiry work in his own right include:
- Securing planning permission for 150 homes in Brimington, Chesterfield
- Securing dismissal of an appeal for 80 homes at Loggerheads, Newcastle-Under-Lyme on behalf of the Borough Council
- Securing planning permission for 141 dwellings at Hanslope, Milton Keynes for Davidson Homes;
- Securing planning permission for 23 dwellings in Alfold, Waverley for Cove Homes;
- Successful dismissal of appeal for 165 dwellings at Doveridge, Derbyshire Dales on behalf of the District Council
He has worked on a number of larger inquiries for 500+ homes, including the appeal by Oxford Brookes University in respect of the re-development of Wheatley Campus, South Oxfordshire (as junior to Chris Young QC)
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).
Local Plan Examinations
James advises regularly on the promotion of sites through the local plan process, especially in the context of strategic planning at the City Region level.
Instructions in 2019 included appearing at the Harrogate, Bedford and West of England Joint Spatial Plan examinations.
He has also appeared in four s113 challenges to Local Plans and is consequently well-versed in the legal and policy frameworks concerning housing numbers, the duty to cooperate, Green Belt and strategic environmental assessment. This included acting for Catesby Estates in the challenge to the Guildford Local Plan:  EWHC 3242 (Admin)
Neighbourhood Plan Examinations
James is one of the leading junior barristers working in the field of neighbourhood planning.
In the last five years, he has advised on a total of more than 60 neighbourhood plans at all stages of development.
He has appeared at 10 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 Milton Keynes Town Council in the major called-in inquiry concerning a town centre retail development in 2016.
Assets of Community Value
James has appeared in three cases before the First Tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) and has advised extensively in this area, including securing removal of the designation at the internal review stage.
Prior to coming to the Bar, James worked 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. He is also a member of the International Planning History Society and will attend its 2020 conference in Moscow, Russia.
James has a particular interest in the development of planning legislation and policy to promote and support new technologies (PropTech, PlanTech) within the context of international comparative land use law (notably in the USA, France and Germany).
He presented a paper at the International Academic Association for Planning Law and Property Rights Conference in Texas, USA in February 2019 and is presenting a further paper at the conference in Usti nad Labem, Czechia in February 2020.
He is working towards qualification as a Legal Associate of the Royal Town Planning Institute.
“He’s fantastic on the law with an extraordinary level of enthusiasm.” “Very diligent and client-focused.”
Chambers UK 2021
“Incredibly intelligent and hard-working, and an impressive advocate.” “A sincere and very committed member of the Bar.”
Chambers UK 2020
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. “A very good junior with an excellent grasp of what’s important. He’s wonderful to work with.” “Highly intelligent.”
Chambers UK 2019
“He has 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
Airebourough Neighbourhood Forum v Leeds CC  EWHC 45 (Admin)
Compton PC v Guildford BC  EWHC 3242 (Admin)
R(Wright) v Resilient Energy Severndale Ltd  UKSC 53
Peel Investments (North) Ltd v SSHCLG  EWHC 2143 (Admin)
Wavendon Properties v SSHCLG  EWHC 1524 (Admin)
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 SSCLG  EWCA Civ 893
R(Williams) v Powys CC  EWCA Civ 42
(1) Suffolk Coastal DC v Hopkins Homes and SSCLG; (2) Cheshire East BC v Richborough Estates Partnership LLP and SSCLG  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 SSCLG  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 SSCLG  EWHC 968 (Admin)
Richborough Estates Partnership LLP and SSCLG v Cheshire East BC  EWCA Civ 168
Cheshire East BC v SSCLG 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 SSCLG 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 SSCLG and Elm Park Holdings  EWHC 2464 (Admin)
IM Properties Development Ltd v Lichfield DC  EWHC 1982 (Admin)
Wychavon DC v SSCLG and North Oak Homes Ltd  EWHC 761 (Admin)
Bar Council Legal Services Committee
Bar Council IT Panel
University of Oxford: Demy (Full College Academic Scholarship) Oxford Half-Blue, Modern Pentathlon
Lincoln’s Inn: Hardwicke Entrance Award Lord Bowen Scholarship Lord Mansfield Scholarship Sunley Pupillage Award
Other: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)
International Bar Association (IBA)
American Bar Association (ABA)
American Planning Association (APA)
International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP)
International Planning History Society (IPHS)
Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)
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)