Simon Kelly


I trained, qualified and eventually worked as a senior solicitor at one of the major City firms, before moving first to a national firm in Manchester, and then returning to my roots in Cambridge.

My work covers all aspects of advisory, transactional and contentious planning, compulsory purchase and highways law, from the largest to smallest projects.

My work for developers is not limited to negotiating s. 106 and 278/38 agreements (which I also do extensively). It frequently includes advising on difficult or contentious projects with a view towards maximising the chances of securing planning permission and minimising the risks of a legal challenge. I have successfully advised commercial developers on securing planning permission for out-of-town retail centres, national and regional residential developers on major housing applications as well as strategic landowners looking to maximise the value of often green field land. I have also advised on student housing schemes, care homes and PRS schemes.

My work for local authorities includes advising the London Legacy Development Corporation on planning applications for well over 2000 new homes at the former Olympic Park, on a range of other applications including the commercial reuse of the former Olympic Broadcasting Centre (now Here East), advising English Partnerships / the Homes and Communities Agency (now Homes England) on a range of developments in Milton Keynes, Mid-Bedfordshire District Council on a major planning appeal (securing a recommendation to refuse), Canterbury City Council (as land owner and LPA) promoting a town centre hotel scheme, as well as advising various local authorities on the development and adoption of CIL and planning policies.

My compulsory purchase experience includes successfully promoting CPOs for St Helens Council and Calderdale Council, advising a consortium of Cumbrian local authorities on a development consent order application for a new nuclear power station at Sellafield, advising affected landowners opposing CPOs / DCOs (and HS2 in particular), and providing advice on securing compensation under the Compensation Code.

On a smaller scale, I have promoted and opposed Asset of Community Value designations, town and village green applications, and regularly advise individuals as well as developers on planning applications, planning enforcement and highways issues, such as Traffic Regulation Orders and Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders.

I also act for opponents of development and have advised a range of objectors on successful opposition strategies including successfully judicially reviewing developments across the country.

Planning is (and should be) essentially pragmatic, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. It is critical to understand the client’s objectives and timetable, as well as how those objectives are best presented to an LPA. Having worked extensively not just for developers, but also both within and for the public sector, I have a good understanding of the needs of developers and of how local planning authorities work, of their expectations and limitations, and what is possible.

My clients come to me not just for problem solving, but for clear, practical advice as to how they can achieve their objectives efficiently and cost-effectively. Once the priorities and budgets are agreed, my clients expect me to follow through to an agreed timetable and to keep them up-to-date.

Outside of work, I enjoy playing tennis (albeit, not particularly well) and the clarinet in range of groups.