Peter Wadsley

Peter Wadsley

Head of Public & Administrative Practice Group
Call 1984 (Middle Temple)
Qualifications MA, LLM (Cantab); Post-graduate Certificate in Environmental Law (Bristol University)
Professional Memberships PEBA, Planning & Environment Bar Association, Western Circuit (Formerly a practising solicitor and a partner in a commercial and licensing practice in Bristol)


As a result of Peter’s experience in the Planning, Environmental and PROW areas, Peter has obtained extensive experience in Judicial Review and in statutory appeals covering the same types of issues.   He was successful in the leading CA case of Trim v. North Dorset District Council which, inter alia, dealt with the use of challenges by declaration in private law proceedings under Part 8 CPR as an alternative to Judicial Review under CPR54.   Both before and since that case he has brought and defended many applications for Judicial Review in the planning, environmental  and local government field generally, most recently (2012) being involved in challenges to planning permissions granted by councils on such diverse issues as the proper ambit of planning permissions for waste and wind turbines and by councillors who  seek to challenge un lawful decisions of their own councils.  He has also been involved in Judicial Review challenges in Town and Village Greens and many other cases.

Peter also has extensive experience in alcohol and entertainment licensing, dealing with many applications and objections on behalf of national companies and individual applicants. He has also acted on behalf of police authorities, and local authorities in bringing and defending appeals in the Magistrates’ Court and High Court both in alcohol licensing and other areas. He initially gained a substantial proportion of this experience as a practising solicitor in a major, country-wide licensing practice.

He has recently spoken at the CLT Licensing Conference in 2011 (and on a number of occasions in previous years).

He frequently acts in statutory appeals to the Magistrates’ Court, the Crown Court and the High Court in caravan and taxi licensing cases, statutory nuisance appeals (particularly noise and odour cases)  – two leading cases involved moto-cross events (Hart DC v Benford and East Dorset DC v Eaglebeam Ltd.).  He has also acted and advised in a number of street trading cases and in the enforcement of the legislation.


  • “The ‘very knowledgeable’ Peter is ‘a highly effective advocate.’ ” Legal 500, planning, licensing and environmental
  • “Peter is second to none when it comes to managing client expectations and providing down-to-earth advice.” Legal 500, planning, licensing and environmental (2012)

As a senior practitioner in the Local Government field, peter has considerable experience in all aspects of planning and environmental work, including public inquiries, appeals to the High Court and Court of Appeal and in judicial review of local authority decisions.

“A strong advocate who inspires confidence.” Legal 500, Construction, planning and environment (2017)

He advises in all these areas assisting local authorities, developers and other bodies, including interest groups and other public bodies.   Particular areas of interest and expertise include renewable energy (particularly wind farms and biomass);  major housing inquiries (including three where viability in the present economic climate was an issue);  retail inquiries;  mineral and waste inquiries;  all aspects of enforcement appeals;  and listed building and conservation area issues (and appeals),

Peter has also acted for highway authorities and others in relation to the creation and extinction of public rights of way and consequent appeals to the High Court.  A recent major rights of way inquiry was the Vixen Tor inquiry in Devon.

He regularly advises local authorities and others on local government issues, including advice to local authorities on their statutory functions and duties.

He has acted (with Leslie Blohm QC and John Sharples) for local authorities in Village Green cases.

He has spoken at many conferences and seminars including (2011) CLT Maximising the Opportunities for Landowners with renewable energy; CLT Planning Law update; CLT Licensing Conference; and a Local Government Law Conference (SJC)

Planning & Environment: Major Inquiries Undertaken

He has undertaken a large number of major inquiries including (under the pre-2004 Act regime) a large number of Local Plan Inquiries for local authorities and developers all over the South West. These included Minerals and Waste LPIs.

Other inquiries have included a number of retail superstore inquiries in Stroud, West Wiltshire, North Devon and North Somerset: major motorway service area inquiries in Stroud and South Gloucestershire; highway inquiries in the South West including the Barnstaple Western By-pass (Devon CC) and the Gloucester South-West By-pass (Gloucestershire CC) and many major housing enquiries in the South West., including most recently 3 major inquiries where the consideration of viability in the present economic climate was a fundamental issue – primarily in relation to the provision of affordable housing.

Renewable Energy inquiries have included: thirteen Wind Turbine Inquiries: six in North Devon, one in Shoreham, Sussex, one in Stroud, one in Cornwall, two in Dorset and two in Torridge.   Some of the more recent inquiries included an inquiry in the South Hams which resulted in the dismissal of the appeal, the rerun of the Denbrook inquiry and the Bickham Moor/Three Moors inquiries.   There have also been two major inquiries in South Wales, one involving a wind farm and the other a major biomass plant.   Another biomass inquiry in Devon has been recently concluded.   The most recent (2012) were wind farms in Dorset and Torridge.

Minerals inquiries have included a gravel pit inquiry: Test Valley, Hampshire; a Ball-Clay Inquiry (Devon County Council); open cast coal Inquiry (Gloucestershire County Council); sand and gravel inquiry in Norfolk; Mineral Local Plan for Gloucestershire County Council.

Waste Inquiries include three in Norfolk, one in North Somerset and also the North Somerset and Gloucestershire Local Plan Inquiries.

Peter also has considerable experience of prosecuting and defending in regulatory work in planning and environmental work and also in trading standards and related areas.


  • “He has an aura about him, and is highly respected for his encyclopaedic knowledge.” “Pragmatic, experienced and approachable.” “A good advocate.” Chambers UK, Planning (2018)
  • “A strong advocate who inspires confidence.” Legal 500, Construction, planning and environment (2017)
  • “Peter is experienced in cases at the intersection between environmental and planning law. He is highly experienced in inquiries and appeals, as well as in judicial review proceedings, and frequently acts on behalf of local authorities and developers. ‘Extremely knowledgeable and has a huge amount of experience. He is very approachable and a lot of authorities instruct him directly because they have such a good relationship with him.’ ‘He has a wealth of experience and an innate ability to think on the hoof, whether in conference or in court. He is a real master of his craft – he’s seen it all before and he knows law and policy inside out.’ “ Chambers UK, Planning (2017)
  • “Peter has innate knowledge of the planning system and an unparalleled ability to think on his feet.” Legal 500, Construction, planning and environment (2016)
  • “Peter focuses on planning law and its intersection with environmental law. He is an experienced advocate in judicial review, and also acts in public inquiries for housing developments. He further has a background in licensing law. ‘The number one junior on the Western Circuit for planning and environmental work. A genuine master of his craft.’ ‘He adopts a very down-to-earth and strategic approach.’ ” Chambers UK, Planning (2016)
  • “Peter’s planning and environment experience includes public inquiries, appeals and judicial review applications.” Legal 500, Construction, Planning and Environment (2015)

Public Rights of Way and Town & Village Greens

Recent PROW applications dealt with have included a footpath in South Wales which was litigated to the Court of Appeal; the much publicised Vixen Tor inquiry on Dartmoor and an unusual application in Devon to declare an ancient highway under section 59 Highways Act 1980, which involved issues going back to the beginning of the 19th century.

Peter has also acted (with John Sharples) in a challenge to an Inspector’s decision on an important Town & Village Green inquiry in South Wales.   He has also acted (with Leslie Blohm QC) for Bristol City Council in a challenge to its decision on a TVG on the site of a proposed stadium for Bristol City FC.


  • “Peter Wadsley, ‘brings clear and concise thinking to the table’, and is recommended for planning matters.” Legal 500 (2011)
  • “St John’s Chambers’ Peter Wadsley is the leading planning junior on the circuit.” Legal 500 (2010)

Practice Overview

Peter specialises in Planning & Local Government Law, Environment Law and Licensing. He heads the Public & Administrative Law Practice Group at St John’s Chambers. He also has extensive experience in public rights of way inquiries and associated topics. He has acted for developers, local authorities and third parties in many inquiries. He is described by Chambers UK as ‘the number one junior on the Western Circuit for planning and environmental work’ and Legal 500 as the ‘leading planning junior on Circuit.’

Peter is qualified to undertake public access work in appropriate cases, for further information, please visit our Public Access page.