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.
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.
Satnam regularly advices and appears at development plan examinations, often promoting large scale or new settlement type developments. Examples include the Mayfield New Settlement in the Mid-Sussex Local plan, a sustainable urban extension (including circa. 3,000 homes) in the Chelmsford Local Plan and a 2,500 home SUE at Bristol in the South West Joint Spatial Plan.
Satnam is currently instructed in the multi-handed challenge to the government’s decision to authorise a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
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
- 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
“Approachable, considered and exceptionally clever.” “Extremely bright, responsive and a pleasure to work with.”
Chambers UK 2019
“His keen eye sees right through to the heart of a matter.”
Legal 500 2019
“A very experienced and trusted barrister with a keen intellect and a detailed knowledge of the planning system. He is thorough in his preparation, robust in his advocacy and good at thinking on his feet. He is also friendly, approachable and always happy to help.” “Highly regarded and very intelligent. He cuts to the chase and has a good manner. A straight-talking, to-the-point solicitor.”
Chambers UK 2018
“A robust advocate.”
Legal 500 2018
“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
South Gloucestershire Council v Burge and Burge  EWCA 1313
(extent of compensatory regime for losses arising from refusal of TPO consent)
East Staffs BC v SSCLG and Barwood Strategic Land Ltd  EWCA Civ 893
(ambit of the NPPF presumption in favour of sustainable development)
Woodfield v JJ Gallagher Ltd  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  EWHC 2077 (Admin)
(and see  EWHC 240 (Admin)) (correct procedure for challenging development plans, releasing GB through the plan process)
Mackman v SoSE  EWCA Civ 716 (EIA and screening opinions)
Bloor Homes v SoSCLG  EWHC 754 (Admin)
(correct approach to 5 year housing land supply, meaning of plans being silent or absent etc)
Hopkins v SoSE  EWCA Civ 470
(procedural fairness at planning inquiries)
JB Trustees v SoSCLG  EWHC 3555 (Admin)
(locus in statutory challenges)
William Davis v SoSCLG  EWHC 3058 (Admin)
(how to apply the NPPF para.14 presumption)
Telford and Wrekin v SoSCLG  EWHC 1638 (Admin) and  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  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  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 ( 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)
Planning and Environmental Bar Association
LLB (Hons) (First Class) Warwick
D.Phil (Oxon) 1994
The Element of Planning Discretion in the Context of an Up to Date Plan: the implications of the Barwood case (2018) Journal of Planning Law
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