International law firm Womble Bond Dickinson has been named Planning Law Firm of the Year at the 2023 Planning Awards.
The firm's planning and infrastructure team has acted on a series of high-profile schemes in sectors ranging from energy, aviation, residential, rail and road infrastructure. The judges praised the firm for "the breadth of legal work" and noted that "the issues involved across these high-profile projects is simply staggering". The projects put forward in the firm's nomination included:
- Securing Development Consent Orders on behalf of longstanding energy client Vattenfall for two offshore windfarm projects in the North Sea off the Norfolk coast. The schemes are expected to provide the equivalent electricity needs of almost four million UK homes per year and save six million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. The scheme won Best Project at the 2022 NIPA awards
- Advising North Somerset Council and the West of England Combined Authority to secure a Development Consent Order on the Portishead rail line, the largest UK local authority led railway reopening project
- Acting for landowner This is Gravity in securing a Local Development Order for its 616-acre net zero Smart Campus in Bridgwater, Somerset. It is one of the largest and most complex LDOs in the UK with over 1.1 million square metres of advanced manufacturing and the site has already reportedly attracted interest from Jaguar Land Rover for a potential multi-billion-pound electric vehicle battery plant
Working with Bristol Airport on its expansion plans and increase in annual capacity from 10 million to 12 million passengers. Womble Bond Dickinson secured an initial planning permission granted on appeal in February 2022 following a public inquiry and successfully overturned a challenge which ended with the Court of Appeal refusing leave to appeal in May 2023. A related compulsory purchase order for highway improvement works was also confirmed in March 2023.
Jonathan Bower, Head of Planning at Womble Bond Dickinson, comments:
"Our firm has a strong history of advising on planning and consenting issues for some of the largest and most complex developments across the UK. In the last eighteen months particularly, our team has had the opportunity to be involved in some major developments up and down the country, all expected to hugely benefit communities and the environment. As a firm committed to net zero by 2030, we're proud to have advised our clients on these ground-breaking, sustainable projects which are helping to decarbonise the economy.
We were nominated in a very strong peer group who all significantly contribute to the development sector and we're thrilled that our planning work, the talent we have in our team and our clients' trust placed in us with their exciting schemes were all recognised by the judges. Congratulations to everyone shortlisted and who won an award."