Thea Osmund-Smith

Viewing: Planning and Environment for Thea Osmund-Smith

Thea is a specialist planning and environmental law practitioner and regularly advises a wide range of clients including land promoters, developers, commercial clients, local planning authorities and other interested parties. Thea is consistently rated by Planning Magazine as one of the top planning juniors, and has appeared on ‘The Planner’s’ Women of Influence annual list.
Chambers and Partners comment 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's advocacy is frankly brilliant, she is a pleasure to watch." Thea is ranked in Band 1 for Planning.
Thea has a strong Inquiry practice and 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. In 2018, Thea was appointed to the Attorney General’s C Panel of Counsel (London) and regularly appears in the High Court. In 2023, Thea was successful at defending an appeal to the Court of Appeal in Cab Housing Ltd v SSLUHC, on behalf of the Secretary of State.
Planning Hearings, Inquiries and Examinations
Thea is an experienced Inquiry practitioner, often appearing at multi-week Inquiries on behalf of land promoters, and developers with specialisms in major housing development and renewable / low carbon energy schemes. Thea advises on a broad spectrum of planning related matters including appeal strategy and site promotion through local plan examinations.
Local Plans
Thea has extensive experience in local plan examinations.
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 was involved in the Coventry Core Strategy and appeared at the Warwick Local Plan Examination. Thea represented a land promoter at the Examination into the soundness of North Somerset’s Consequential Changes to Policies following a successful Judicial Review, and at the Huntingdonshire Local Plan Examination on behalf of Larkfleet Homes.
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 was involved in the Rushcliffe Local Plan Part 2, the North Warwickshire Local Plan, and the South Staffordshire Local Plan Review.
Thea represented Persimmon Homes at the West of England Joint Spatial Plan Examination to make submissions on the Sustainability Appraisal of the Plan’s preferred strategy. Thea has also promoted housing developments through examination of the Wrexham Local Plan, the Shropshire Local Plan, the Stroud Local Plan, and the Babergh and Mid Suffolk Joint Local Plan.
Inquiries and Hearings
Thea has vast experience of section 78 appeals and has appeared at well over 100 planning Inquiries and hearings in England and Wales. Thea deals with a wide range of issues including heritage, landscape and character, transport, drainage, ecology, locational sustainability and environmental impact. Thea regularly advises on the promotion of Green Belt sites for development including, renewable and low carbon energy, housing including specialist accommodation through local plans and the planning application / appeal processes.
Among her successes, Thea has secured permission for sites including 76 dwellings in Arun District in a green gap, 50 dwellings in Melksham despite an up-to-date neighbourhood plan, 380 dwellings in Pocklington and 150 in Swanland following a joint Inquiry in the East Riding of Yorkshire, 830 dwellings in Maghull, Sefton, 110 dwellings in Holt, North Norfolk, over 300 dwellings in Wrexham, and hundreds of dwellings in Hinckley & Bosworth Borough.
Thea has also been heavily involved in the promotion of large solar schemes for the past two years, achieving consent for a number of 45+MW and battery storage developments.
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.
Renewable Energy
Thea has a significant solar energy practice and has been involved in promoting a number of schemes of up to 49.9MW in the last 18 months including, all of which have secure consent following appeal:
• Bramley, Hampshire APP/H1705/W/22/3304561- 45MW solar farm and battery storage
• Langford, Devon APP/Y1138/W/22/3293104 (“Langford”) - Secretary of State decision 49.9MW solar farm and battery storage
• Bishop’s Itchington, Warwickshire APP/J3720/W/22/3292579 - 49.9MW solar farm
• Halloughton, Nottinghamshire APP/B3030/W/21/3279533 - 49.9MW solar farm and battery stations
Section 106 contributions, development viability and the application of the CIL Regulations
Thea has advised a range of clients on the applicability of the Regulations to specific contributions, and on the wording of 106 Agreements / Unilateral undertakings. 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 and was likely to impact the 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 National Conference of the Planning and Environmental Bar Association Annual event 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 has also advised Coventry City Council in respect of the Spon End CPO.
Further Experience
Thea writes and regularly presents papers at seminars and conferences both on behalf of the planning group and when invited by clients to do so. Recently, Thea has delivered training to MHCLG and also the Planning Inspectorate at the annual conference.
Thea is 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 the experience to those who have not given evidence before. Please contact for more information.
In 2018, Thea was invited to speak at the PEBA National Conference on the top of CIL and section 106 Contributions.
Thea has been a committee member of Women in Planning West Midlands since its inception.
“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 2023 - Ranked Tier 1
“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
CAB Housing Ltd v Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities [2023] EWCA Civ 194
East Riding of Yorkshire Council v Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities [2021] EWHC 3721 (Admin)
Gladman Developments Ltd v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government [2021] EWCA Civ 104
R (Fraser) v Shropshire Council [2021] EWHC 31 (Admin)
Bhandal v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government [202] EWHC 2724 (Admin)
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.
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
The law and policy of Solar Energy Development

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