Grant McBurney has recently been made a partner within the Planning and Environmental Law Team within Belfast’s largest independent law firm, Carson McDowell. Grant has been with the firm since 2004, qualifying in September 2007 and being made a partner in May 2017.
Grant is one of the few solicitors in Northern Ireland to specialise exclusively in the areas of planning and environmental law. He advises on a range of matters including; instigation and defence of judicial review proceedings; major infrastructure and renewable energy projects; major development schemes; and Section 76 planning agreements.
In the recent times, since the transfer of planning powers, Grant has seen a significant increase in instructions relating to planning agreements by funders, developers and local councils. While planning agreements are not new to the planning system in Northern Ireland, the transfer of powers has seen an increase in the use of the agreements to secure developer contributions among other things. Planning agreements are legally binding contracts between developers and local councils that require developers to make a contribution towards matters including public realm improvement works and regeneration as well as infrastructure works.
“The key to any developer contribution being sought by a local council is not to front load obligations on a developer which could make the delivery of the project unviable. A balance has to be struck between the perceived need of the local council for the contribution and the economics of a project, otherwise the development will never be built. Early engagement is essential for both sides to outline the issues and have them resolved by the time any related planning application comes to planning committee to avoid delays given that the planning permission will not issue until the agreement has been executed,” he says.