Planning and zoning issues bridge the divide between public and private, and development and conservation. In an area that blends law, advocacy and politics, touches on sensitive local issues, and impacts generations of stakeholders, ensuring a successful result requires experienced representatives with the highest level of industry knowledge and legal sophistication.

Our Planning and Zoning team has been involved in some of the largest and most innovative development and infrastructure projects across the US, UK and UAE. The team has unparalleled experience handling highly complex projects across all asset classes, including tall buildings, major infrastructure (including the energy, water and waste sectors), transport (including the airports, ports and harbours, road and rail sectors), mixed-use development, retail/leisure/residential driven regeneration, signature schemes and multi-arena sports facilities. With over 35 lawyers, our team provides comprehensive advice with global perspective and local insight; from all facets of planning and highways law, compulsory purchase, procurement, state aid, best value and judicial review across Europe and the UK, to municipal and state approvals related to zoning, environmental review of discretionary land use actions, construction, building codes, historic preservation and related issues, as well as litigation arising out of land use and historic preservation administrative proceedings in the US.

UK Planning and Zoning Team 

Our team’s focus is on anticipating risks against a constantly evolving legal and policy background and the navigation of consenting and related processes to meet clients commercial and operational objectives. We also help make connections between  developers and planning decision makers to facilitate the successful progression of a project.

Our UK Planning and Zoning team was the first stand-alone Planning practice more than 30 years ago, and has been ranked in the top tier of the leading legal directories for the last 20 years. Our team has advised on some of the largest development and infrastructure schemes in the UK, including:

Seller Properties (the Shard, the tallest building in the UK); Landsec (Nova, Victoria and 20 Fenchurch Street); Unibail-Rodamco Westfield (Shepherd’s Bush in West London, Stratford City in East London and its proposals being promoted with Hammerson in Croydon, South London); Thames Water (Thames Tideway Tunnel project); Heathrow Airport (expansion/third runway proposals); Olympic Delivery Authority (Olympic Park for the 2012 London Olympics and post Olympics legacy schemes including UCL’s £1bn new campus) and some of the UK’s largest residential and BTR schemes. For more information please see our representative experience.

Read more about Planning in the UK - Ahead of the Curve.

US Planning and Zoning Team 

Our US Planning and Zoning team, consisting of lawyers, urban planners and a registered architect, provides a full range of legal services in all areas of land use law, including advice on development enhancement strategies. The team has deep roots in New York and our experience there is comprehensive, including: 

  • Advising on compliance with the New York City Zoning Resolution and zoning and subdivision regulations in other municipalities, and appearing before New York City land use agencies and boards in other municipalities in connection with applications for special permits, subdivision approval, variances, zoning text and map amendments and other administrative actions required in the development process. Our planners and architect bring a special perspective and appreciation of urban planning and design to the process. We have also served as zoning and planning counsel to a Westchester County municipality. 
  • Appearing before the New York City Department of Buildings in obtaining interpretations of the New York City Building Codes, the New York City Zoning Resolution and the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, including working with City agencies on proposed legislation affecting various aspects of the development process.  We have particular experience in the area of New York City and building codes. 
  • Appearing before the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in seeking permission to alter protected properties or to develop in historic districts, including matters involving the application of the federal and state Historic Preservation Acts. 
  • Transferring of development rights in both complex and routine transactions. 
  • Litigating disputes arising out of land use and historic preservation administrative proceedings, including under the New York City Zoning Resolution, state and municipal subdivision and site plan regulations, landmark preservation regulations and federal and state environmental impact review statutes. We also handle litigation seeking monetary damages for constitutional violations arising out of zoning, planning board and related municipal regulatory activities. 

UAE Planning and Zoning Team 

In contrast to all other international firms in the Middle East, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s Middle East team has dedicated resources in the UAE focused on planning and environment. The team is currently advising major governments and quasi government entities on key projects in the region and has drafted planning and environmental regulations for a number of Free Zone entities. Clients include Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council and the Sharjah Urban Planning Council. We have an in-depth understanding of the policy framework against which planning proposals are judged both in the UAE and the wider MENA region. We are able to guide clients through often incoherent planning systems which often lack transparency and are therefore difficult to navigate.

Key Facts & Figures

  • We had the first standalone Planning practice in London, established over 30 years ago 

Awards

What They Are Saying

  • "They are top-class and top-drawer. They are knowledgeable, responsive to client needs and have a deep pool of resources and the ability to get the job done. Another strength is the quality of the support team." -Chambers 2018 
  • "They're brilliant to work with because of their knowledge of the planning system. The service level stands out and they have amazing depth on the planning team."  -Chambers 2018 

Representative Experience

$4.9 BILLION ATLANTIC YARDS PROJECT

Location: US, New York
Representation of Empire State Development Corporation in connection with the environmental review and other public approvals for the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards Project, which will include an 18,000 seat arena (the future home of the New Jersey Nets basketball team) and 16 other residential and commercial buildings, comprising 7 million sq ft of development on a 22-acre site in Brooklyn, New York.

NATIONAL GRID - ONE OF THE WORLD'S LARGEST INVESTOR-OWNED UTILITIES

Location: UK, Nationwide
Advise National Grid, one of the world’s largest investor-owned utilities, on their large scale infrastructure projects in the UK, including: 

  • London Power Tunnels Project. Leading on all planning, infrastructure, CPO and land assembly aspects of this hugely complex scheme that is vital for London’s growing economy. The project will create a new 32 km electricity superhighway deep below the capital, keeping London connected to safe and reliable electricity supplies.
  • Yorkshire and Humber Carbon Capture Storage Project. Advised on the buried pipeline (and associated above ground infrastructure) to connect a new coal fired power station in Yorkshire to the coast and then offshore to a platform where the product would be injected 1 km beneath the sea bed in the region. This project was the first of a kind, given the nature of the technology and the scale of the operation. Our role was in relation to the consenting of the onshore pipeline, 75 km across the countryside, including compulsory acquisition, environmental impact and habitats regulations considerations.
  • Electricity Connection. Advising on National Grid’s new connections from various offshore wind farms, including the Mid-Wales Electricity Connection and the North Wales Electricity Connection.

ADVISING PANATTONI ON 15+ LOGISTICS PROJECTS ACROSS GERMANY

Location: Germany
Advised on more than 15 logistics project developments across Germany, in particular regarding funding structures with respect to forward development management agreements, aspects of planning and zoning, permits, property due diligence and lease agreements. Six-digit overall amount of sq m of lettable areas.

FLUSHING COMMONS PROJECT IN QUEENS

Location: US, New York
Representing a joint venture of The Rockefeller Development Corporation and TDC Development and Construction Corporation as developer, in obtaining land use approvals in connection with the Flushing Commons project in Queens. This $850 million project consists of the redevelopment of a 5.5 acre City-owned municipal parking lot into a 1.6 million sq ft mixed-use development, including residential, commercial and community facility uses, as well as below-grade public parking. We obtained 11 discretionary zoning approvals, including a rezoning, special permits for large-scale development, public parking garage, and waterfront development. Land use work continues as the project is being constructed.

£4 BILLION+ THAMES TIDEWAY TUNNEL

Location: UK, London
Secured the development consent for London’s £4.2 billion super sewer, the Thames Tideway Tunnel. This is one of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects and the decision to grant development consent was the culmination of seven years of work for the team, following a rigorous and intensive public examination process. We were subsequently appointed to advise the new company created to finance and deliver the ‘Super sewer’, which will stretch 15 miles under London to help prevent untreated sewage from flowing into the city’s river. It will be 7.2 metres in diameter and have a capacity of 1.6 million cubic metres, upgrading London’s Victorian sewerage network to cope with the demands of the 21st century.

2014 WINTER OLYMPICS IN SOCHI 

Location: Russia
Participated in drafting a package of laws regulating the preparation for and holding of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, including: condemnation and allocation of land plots, infrastructure, construction, environment, town planning and zoning, financing, corporate and migration matters.

“NYU CORE 2031” AT WASHINGTON SQUARE CAMPUS IN MANHATTAN

Location: US, New York
Representing New York University as developer in connection with its "NYU Core 2031" proposal, to build more than 2 million sq ft of academic space at its Washington Square campus in Manhattan. Our representation encompassed preparation of NYU's land-use application under New York City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, counselling with respect to the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act, negotiation of project real estate documents and serving as co-counsel to successfully defend the approval from litigation challenges.

LARGEST ONSHORE GAS STORAGE SITE IN THE UK

Location: UK, Lancashire
We have been advising Halite Energy Group since 2010 on the proposed £600 million gas storage facility which is the largest onshore gas storage site in the UK. We have advised on all aspects of the planning process including obtaining the development consent order and a number of related powers and consents.

ABU DHABI URBAN PLANNING COUNCIL (NOW THE DMUP)

Location: UAE, Abu Dhabi
Instructed by the UPC to advise on planning matters. Our role in reviewing the UPC’s Development Code threw up a number of issues regarding its implementation and enforcement. Although the UPC had included regulatory provisions within the Code, the Code itself had no statutory weight and needed to be supported with planning legislation. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner was retained to draft the relevant legislation and work with the UPC in reviewing and reforming its development review process.

LARGE PARCEL IN HUDSON YARDS

Location: US, New York
Representation of Silverstein Properties, Inc., a significant office and residential developer, in all land use and zoning aspects of the development a large parcel in Hudson Yards, which will ultimately contain two buildings with approximately 1.8 million sq ft of residential and commercial uses.

EXPANSION OF EUROPE'S LARGEST AIRPORT

Location: UK, London
Advising Heathrow Airport Ltd on the planning issues around the construction of its third runway at Heathrow, Europe’s largest airport.

DUBAI GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION

Location: UAE, Dubai
Providing input on Dubai Government’s consultation on the use of public private partnership arrangements in Dubai, including participation at a series of workshops attended by several Dubai Government bodies including the Legal Affairs Department.

CONSTRUCTION OF A RESIDENTIAL TOWER FOR A RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPER IN NEW YORK

Location: US, New York
Representing Toll Brothers City Living, a significant residential developer, on the acquisition of development rights for the construction of a residential tower, and on applications before governmental agencies for various land-use applications, including requests for complex building code variances and for a special permit to exceed maximum parking space limitations.

PLANNING OF ICONIC LONDON SKYSCRAPERS

Location: UK, London
Advising on the planning aspects of some of London’s most iconic skyscrapers, including the Shard, 20 Fenchurch Street and the acquisition of 122 Leadenhall, “the Cheesegrater.”

LANDMARK FARLEY POST OFFICE BUILDING

Location: US, New York
Represented a state public benefit corporation in connection with the redevelopment of the landmark Farley Post Office Building, in order to create a new Penn Station in Manhattan, New York. Our work included legal counsel related to land use issues and the project environmental review under federal and state law.

ADVISING ON ALL OF WESTFIELD'S LONDON SCHEMES

Location: UK, White City, Stratford, Croydon
Advising a Westfield/Hammerson joint venture on the proposals to redevelop the Whitgift Centre and surrounding area in Croydon Town Centre in a £1.5 billion mixed use scheme. We have advised on all planning matters since 2012. We have also advised on Westfield’s schemes in Stratford and White City.

LINDBERGH CITY CENTER

Location: US, Georgia
Representation of Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) on the ongoing development of Lindbergh City Center, a 50-acre mixed-use project located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, Georgia and built around an open-air heavy rail station and very active bus intermodal facilities. The fully developed project will consist of nearly 5 million sq ft of space, including speculative office, corporate user office, retail and restaurant, hotel, rental residential and for-sale residential, and involves multiple ground lease parcels and detailed land use restrictions.

UK'S LARGEST RESIDENTIAL-LED SCHEME

Location: UK, Nationwide
The team advise on some of the UK’s largest residential-led development schemes, including Oak Park Garden Village (25,500), Barking Riverside (11,000 homes), Northstowe (10,000) and Ebbsfleet Garden City (9,500).

TRIPLE NET GROUND LEASE AT HUDSON YARDS

Location: US, New York
Represented Little Man Parking LLC, a medium sized owner operated parking garage company, as landlord, in connection with a triple net ground lease at 451 W. 10th Avenue in New York. The tenant, a real estate firm, plans to build a 415,000 sq ft tower as tall as 700 ft at the site, which would include either hotel or office space on the lower floors and residential units above.

OLYMPIC DELIVERY AUTHORITY (ODA) ON LONDON 2012

Location: UK, London
Advised the ODA on all aspects of the planning, construction and delivery of all the Olympic Park sports venues and disposal of the Olympic Village, for use during the 2012 Olympic Games for housing athletes, and legacy conversion.

DEVELOPMENT OF AN ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY IN NEW YORK

Location: US, New York
Representing Maplewood Senior Living, LLC as land use counsel in connection with due diligence zoning advice for acquisition of a site on Second Avenue in New York, New York, the purchase of air rights from an adjacent owner, and the municipal approvals for this 200,000 sq ft development.

SALE OF FEE INTERESTS IN SEVERAL PARCELS IN QUEENS, NEW YORK

Location: US, New York
Representing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in connection with the sale of fee interests in several parcels as well as several hundred thousand sq ft of excess development rights, appurtenant to MTA-retained land to the owner of adjacent property in Queens, New York. We are handling all aspects of the deal, including environmental, zoning and real estate.