Planning Law

Established over two decades ago, Carson McDowell’s Planning Law Team exists in recognition of the need amongt its diverse client portfolio to deliver specific and tailored advice in the specialist area of Northern Irish planning law. With national and European jurisprudence and legislation on planning issues emerging on a near daily basis, the provision of planning law advice in NI requires the expertise of lawyers specialising in this increasingly complex area.

The Planning Law Team in Carson McDowell is the largest team of specialist planning lawyers in NI, with each of the five team members practising exclusively in the fields of planning and environmental law.

Key Contacts

Gary McGhee, Partner, Head of Planning and Environmental Law Team

Grant McBurney, Associate, Planning and Environmental Law

What We Do

Set out below are just some of the areas in which Carson McDowell's Planning Law Team provides specialist, practical and strategic advice:

  • The instigation and defence of judicial reviews of planning decisions;
  • The co-ordination of major planning applications;
  • Advice on the form, content and lawfulness of Environmental Statements;
  • Advice on the form, content and lawfulness of Strategic Environmental Assessments;
  • Advice on the form, content and lawfulness of Habitats Regulations Assessments;
  • The preparation of planning and roads agreements;
  • Representation of clients at area plan inquiries, roads inquiries and planning appeals;
  • Advice on comprehensive development legislation;
  • Advice on planning conditions and lawful amendment of applications;
  • Making, opposing and monitoring of applications for planning permission;
  • Advice on areas of special control including legislation and case law relating to conservation areas, listed buildings and historic monuments;
  • Advising on all aspects of planning legislation, jurisprudence and planning process;
  • Planning due diligence pursuant to the acquisition and financing of renewable energy developments in NI; and
  • Planning due diligence - including due diligence pursuant to the acquisition of real estate development companies and assets, energy from waste plants, and the financing of such acquisitions of business operating in NI for local and international investors.

What Others Say About Us

Chambers and Partners UK 2016 (Band 1)

What the team is known for:

Outstanding reputation for Northern Irish planning expertise. Retained by private and public sector clients to assist with a range of complex mandates. Excellent choice for renewable energy developments and major infrastructure projects.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients):

"An excellent team, very dedicated and thorough. I have no qualms in continuing to use them myself or referring them to other people. Their expertise is unsurpassed."

"The lawyers have a good knowledge of specific details of the law. They barely ever have to go and find it out, they just know it."

Work highlights:

Assisted the System Operator for Northern Ireland with its planning application for a £120 million energy infrastructure project connecting the electricity grids of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Advised the Port of Belfast on all planning law aspects of a major mixed-use development at Belfast Harbour.

Notable practitioners

Gary McGhee is a market-leading specialist with notable work in wind farm planning, infrastructure and retail planning. He is a strong advocate and has a wealth of experience in planning inquiries and judicial review proceedings. One market commentator says: "He is hugely strategic and technical when it comes to planning matters; he is really able to see the big picture for clients, and delivers results."

Grant McBurney is establishing himself in waste planning and contaminated land issues in addition to general planning matters. One source comments: "His preparation is thorough and his background work is the best. He's so tenacious and looks into things in such detail that we are never stumped when the opposition brings up a question."

Significant clients Tesco, Belfast International Airport, Northern Ireland Electricity, ESB, Rathlin Energy.”

The Legal 500 2016 (First Tier)

What the team is known for

Outstanding reputation for Northern Irish planning expertise. Retained by private and public sector clients to assist with a range of complex mandates. Excellent choice for renewable energy developments and major infrastructure projects.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"An excellent team, very dedicated and thorough. I have no qualms in continuing to use them myself or referring them to other people. Their expertise is unsurpassed."

"The lawyers have a good knowledge of specific details of the law. They barely ever have to go and find it out, they just know it."

Work highlights

Assisted the System Operator for Northern Ireland with its planning application for a £120 million energy infrastructure project connecting the electricity grids of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Advised the Port of Belfast on all planning law aspects of a major mixed-use development at Belfast Harbour.

Notable practitioners

Gary McGhee is a market-leading specialist with notable work in wind farm planning, infrastructure and retail planning. He is a strong advocate and has a wealth of experience in planning inquiries and judicial review proceedings. One market commentator says: "He is hugely strategic and technical when it comes to planning matters; he is really able to see the big picture for clients, and delivers results."

Grant McBurney is establishing himself in waste planning and contaminated land issues in addition to general planning matters. One source comments: "His preparation is thorough and his background work is the best. He's so tenacious and looks into things in such detail that we are never stumped when the opposition brings up a question."

Significant clients Tesco, Belfast International Airport, Northern Ireland Electricity, ESB, Rathlin Energy.

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