Thea Osmund-Smith

Viewing: Environmental Law for Thea Osmund-Smith

Thea is consistently rated by Planning Magazine as one of the top planning barristers under 35 years old and was voted No.2 in 2018. In 2017 she appeared on the overall Top Rated Planning Juniors list for the first time, and in 2018, Thea was ranked as the No.8 planning junior overall.
Thea is a specialist planning and environmental law practitioner and regularly advises a wide range of clients including land promoters, developers, commercial clients, and local planning authorities and parish council’s.
Chambers and Partners 2019 comments that Thea is:
“Really good with clients, really good on her feet and exceptional with detail. Her work ethic is brilliant.” “Incredibly thorough, incredibly focused and also a very engaging person. A great advocate.”
Thea is regularly instructed to appear in High Court matters on behalf of Claimants and Defendants and has extensive experience of advising, drafting and advocacy in judicial review and section 288 and 289 claims.
Thea is familiar with the procedural requirements of High Court litigation, and the relevant costs provisions. Thea has considerable experience in advising on costs protection and the application of the Aarhus Convention. In 2018, Thea was appointed to the Attorney General’s C Panel of Counsel (London).
Planning Hearings, Inquiries and Examinations
Thea is an experienced Inquiry practitioner, often appearing at multi-week Inquiries on behalf of land promoters, developers, and also for local authorities. Thea advises on a broad spectrum of planning related matters at Hearings, Inquiries and Examinations including:
Local Plans
Thea regularly advises land promoters and developers on the promotion of sites through the local plan process, as well as on issues such as green belt review. Thea has been involved in the Coventry Core Strategy, and appeared at the Warwick Local Plan Examination. Thea also represented a land promoter at the Examination into the soundness of North Somerset’s Consequential Changes to Policies following a successful Judicial Review. Thea appeared at the Examination of the Kingswood Neighbourhood Development Plan, and has drafted representations for the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Local Plan. Thea has advised in relation to the Cornwall Site Allocations DPD, and is presently involved in the Rushcliffe Local Plan Part 2, North Warwickshire Local Plan, and the South Staffordshire Local Plan Review.
Thea has extensive experience of dealing with objectively assessed housing need, five year housing land supply issues, and prematurity in the context of local and neighbourhood Plans. Thea has appeared at a number of planning Inquiries and hearings in England and Wales both promoting and objecting to housing schemes, and has dealt with a wide range of issues including landscape and character, transport, drainage, heritage, ecology, locational sustainability and environmental impact.
Thea has recently secured permission for 365 dwellings in Llay, Wrexham, 80 dwellings in Barnack (Peterborough) 180 dwellings in Buckden (Huntingdonshire), 30 dwellings in Enstone West Oxfordshire, and 130 dwellings in Henstridge (South Somerset)
Thea has a particular interest in heritage issues, and believes that early advice is crucial to ensure that impacts are properly considered within the statutory and policy Framework.
Thea is often instructed to review documents prior to application and considers this a valuable service that all developers should consider using for more complex and/or EIA development.
Thea also has a keen interest in the Habitats Regulations and has advised extensively on the implications of People Over Wind, Peter Sweetman v Coillte Teoranta C-323/17
Recent Appeals Include
- Land South of Oxford Road, Enstone, Oxfordshire, 30 dwellings, APP/D3125/W/17/3182718 (heritage, landscape, emerging plan)
- Land West of Stalbridge Road, Henstridge, 130 dwellings, APP/R3325/W/18/3197690 (locational sustainability and transport)
- Land off Stone Path Drive Hatfield Peverel (conjoined Inquiry) 140/80 dwellings, APP/Z1510/V/17/3180725, (heritage, landscape, ecology, air quality, transport
- Land off The Common, Barwell 185 dwellings, APP/K2420/W/17/3188948 185 (Green Wedge, housing land supply, transport)
- Land of Town Road, Cliffe Woods, Medway 225 dwellings APP/A2280/W/17/3175461 (landscape, sustainability)
- Land at Home Farm, Llay, Wrexham 365 dwellings, APP/H6955/A/16/3147116 (landscape, transport, ecology)
- Land off Lucks Lane, Buckden, Cambridgeshire 180 dwellings, APP/H0520/W/16/3159161(housing land supply, objectively assessed need, transport, heritage, landscape)
- Land off Uffington Road, Barnack up to 80 dwellings APP/J0540/W/16/3153303 (landscape, heritage, sustainability and housing land supply)
- Land off Sherborne Road, Burbage 73 dwellings APP/K2420/W/15/3004910, (landscape, housing need and housing land supply) subject of the Jelson High Court case listed above. Thea was successful at appeal and in the High Court and Court of Appeal.
- Land off Monarchs Road, Sutterton up to 60 dwellings APP/Z2505/W/15/3010682 (open space, landscape impact)
- Land at the Asps, Warwick 900 dwellings, APP/T3725/A/14/2221613 (heritage, landscape, transport)
- Ledsham Road, Ellesmere Port 2000 dwellings APP/A0665/A/13/2209026
- Land off Garsdale, Saxonvale, Frome 60 dwellings APP/Q3305/W/15/3135345 (heritage issues, employment land, viability, amenity, character and appearance)
- Land off Hayslan Road, Great Malvern up to 150 dwellings APP/J1860/W/15/3016539?(open space, landscape impact, valued landscape)
Renewable Energy
Thea has acted for promoters and objectors of wind farm development. Given the scale of turbine development and the acknowledged landscape impact of wind farms, landscape harm is a common issue as is the impact on the historic environment. Moreover, environmental impact, protection of European protected species and the Habitats Directive are also issues that often need to be addressed. Recent projects include the following:
- Llaithddu Wind Farm Promoting a 27 turbine scheme in the context of a conjoined s36 Inquiry together with 5 sites and related grid connection works.
- Mynydd y Gwynt Promoting a nationally significant infrastructure project for up to 27 turbines - a decision is pending.
- Hemswell Cliff Wind Farm Thea acted on behalf of a local residents group – VOCAT in objecting to the scheme on heritage, archaeology and landscape grounds. The appeal was refused after the introduction of the new planning practice guidance because the scheme was found not to have community backing. The Secretary of State refused permission, accepting the recommendation of the Inspector. APP/B3030/W115/3003130
- Churchover Wind Farm Acting on behalf of the Parish Council objecting to a scheme of 3 turbines on heritage and landscape grounds. The decision considered arguments on the recent PPG and the meaning of “community backing” featured heavily in both the evidence and the submissions. APP/E3715/A/14/2227479
- Griffe Grange Wind Farm (APP/P1045/W/15/3130874) Thea acted on behalf of Derbyshire Dales District Council in resisting a three turbine wind farm scheme. Issue included heritage (listed building, conservation area and schedule ancient monuments), and the impact on the National Park.
Section 106 contributions, development viability and the application of the CIL Regulations
Thea has advised a range on of clients on the applicability of the Regulations to specific contributions, and on the wording of 106 Agreements / Unilateral undertakings. In particular, Thea’s recent work has included advising infrastructure providers on the pooling of contributions, and what practical steps might be taken to avoid a conflict with the Regulations to ensure that development can be considered acceptable in planning terms. Thea appeared in front of the CIL Review Panel chaired by Liz Peace, on behalf of the National Police Chief’s Council to discuss how the CIL regime has impacted on, and was likely to impact on delivery of infrastructure in future. The Report of the Panel was published alongside the Housing White Paper and recommended that the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) should be replaced with a ‘hybrid system’ of a low level tariff for all developments and section 106 for larger developments.
Thea spoke at the 2018 National Conference of the Planning and Environmental Bar Association Annual conference on the topic of CIL Reform.
Compulsory Purchase (CPO)
Thea has advised objectors on a range of CPO issues. Recently Thea has acted on behalf of landowners affected by the M54 to M6 Link Road, advising extensively on the compulsory acquisition of land required for the project and ecological mitigation, and in respect of the terms of the draft Development Consent Order.
Thea regularly appears at Enforcement Inquiries and understands the important of early involvement to assists both local authorities and appellants in what can be a very complex process. In particular, Thea often advises on the principles enunciated in the case of Ahmed v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2014] EWCA Civ 566 and the availability of obvious alternatives.
Further Experience
Thea has written for the UK Environmental Law Association’s publication ‘e-law,’ on the issue of costs of Environmental Judicial Review, and spoke on ‘the year’s hottest cases’ at the UKELA Annual Conference . The paper she presented was published in a special issue of Environmental Law and Management. Thea also writes and regularly presents papers at seminars and conferences both on behalf of the planning group and when invited by clients to do so.
Thea has also been involved in training professional witnesses on behalf of a number of clients and together with other members of Chambers, has carried out mock Inquiries to offer experience to those who have not given evidence before. Please contact for more information.
In 2018, Thea was invite to speak at the PEBA National Conference on the top of CIL and section 106 Contributions.
“Thea's advocacy is frankly brilliant, she is a pleasure to watch.” “Thea is a star of the junior Bar. A very strong advocate who is thorough in her preparation.” “A thoroughly modern barrister. She is brilliant and completely grounded.”
Chambers UK 2023
“Thea is able to get to the crux of complex matters very quickly. She is extremely approachable, has excellent interpersonal skills and fosters an enjoyable and productive team atmosphere. She is impressive during cross-examination and quickly adapts to changing situations.”
Legal 500 2023
"She offers detailed and commercially focused advice delivered with empathy and flair." "She clearly understands her subject and the case in hand such that she is able to expertly guide a judge through the papers with concise elegance."
Chambers UK 2022
"Thea works to a very high standard of professionalism – she is extremely approachable, down to earth, friendly and easy to deal with. The advice given is clear, considered, incisive and expert."
Legal 500 2022
“An exceptional junior and easy to deal with.”
Chambers UK 2021
“Methodical, very sharp and quick to resolve or see a way around issues.” “Extremely bright, efficient and proactive.”
Chambers UK 2020
Notable Cases
DLA Delivery Ltd v Baroness Cumberlege of Newick [2018] EWCA Civ 1305
West Oxfordshire District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2018] EWHC 3065 (Admin)
Jelson Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2018] EWCA Civ 24
Nottingham City Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017] EWHC 2243 (Admin)
R. (on the application of Save Britain’s Heritage) v Liverpool City Council [2016] EWCA Civ 806
Save our Green Hills Community Ground v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2016] EWHC 1929 (Admin)
Jelson Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2016] EWHC 2979 (Admin)
Shropshire Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2016] EWHC 2733 (Admin)
Pertemps Investments Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2015] EWHC 2308 (Admin)
R(on the application of Hayes) v Wychavon DC [2014] EWHC 1987 (Admin)
R (on the application of Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner) v Blaby DC [2014] EWHC 1719 (Admin)
In addition, Thea has been involved in a number of challenges that have resolved prior to substantive hearings, and is happy to advise on seeking early and effective resolutions in such matters. Examples include:
Malvern Hills District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2017)
Secured consent Order quashing permission on behalf of the Council on the basis that the Inspector misinterpreted a recently adopted Local Plan policy.
Amott v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2017)
Resisted permission on behalf of developer client who secured planning permission for residential development following a section 78 appeal.
Bennett v Derbyshire Dales District Council (2018)
Successfully resisted a challenge to the grant of planning permission by the LPA for a mixed commercial / housing development.
Edward Blake Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2018). Thea was successful in challenging the decision of an Inspector (APP/C1625/W/17/3177291) to refuse permission for the demolition of Prinknash Abbey to accommodate new residential development. The Secretary of State consented to Judgment.
The Lord Slynn of Hadley UK Environmental Law Moot 2011, Winner
Major Scholarship, Inner Temple (2009)
Duke of Edinburgh Entrance Award, Inner Temple (2009)
University of Warwick Law School Prize for Best Overall Performance (2008, 2009)
Inner Temple
LLB, First Class, University of Warwick
BVC College of Law

Latest News & Publications

Following an appeal made by JBM Solar Projects 6 Limited (APP/B3030/W/21/3279533), Inspector Baird has granted permission for a 49.9 MW solar farm on a site of approximately 100ha north of Halloughton, Nottinghamshire in the district of Newark & Sherwood...

Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2022
Thinking of discontinuing, or settling a claim? This 21-page Judgment (admonishment) provides guidance...

Date: Fri, 19 Jun 2020
Thea Osmund-Smith successful in High Court...

Date: Thu, 06 Dec 2018