The annual survey, first published in 1998, helps planners and legal practitioners to identify the solicitors, law firms and barristers best equipped to deal with planning matters.
Instead of relying solely on members of the legal profession to rate their peers, this year the survey focussed on those who use the services of planning solicitors. Planning consultants, planning officers, developers and local authority lawyers were asked for their views on the planning lawyers and law firms they most admired.
Pinsent Masons, is home to a planning team that is 'at the top of its game', according to one planning consultant interviewed as part of the process. In his view, the firm houses 'pretty much the number one team for residential work, particularly in London' and it is at the forefront of the transport, energy and infrastructure sectors. Another respondent highlighted a very strong team of professionals who 'really know their stuff.'
Head of planning and environment at Pinsent Masons, Iain Gilbey, said: “The demand for services in the housing market has been growing exponentially. We are involved in many residential schemes in London, including advising on plans for 7,000 new homes at Old Oak Common, as well as several large-scale garden settlements outside the capital.
“Outside of the UK, our work on infrastructure and energy consenting will increase this year – working from our international network of offices in Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. It will be another exciting year for our team.”
The practice is involved in a number of nationally significant infrastructure projects, including some of the UK's largest road schemes. It has been acting for dozens of HS2 petitioners, including Transport for London and the Mayor of London, as the bill which would grant the project permission passes through Parliament.
The survey also revealed Pinsent Masons has by the largest team of planning lawyers totalling 86 - a figure that has almost trebled since 2009 - along with seven other staff with legal qualifications and eight trainee solicitors.
Planning partner at Pinsent Masons, Richard Ford, said: “Pinsent Masons' growth in manpower is purely a result of our domestic expansion. By 2020, the firm wants to grow even more by adding more international lawyers to our team. The three key areas of growth over the last year for the firm's planning practice have been housing, energy and infrastructure.”