Who? Roy Pinnock, partner in the planning and public law team, Dentons, London. 

Roy Pinnock

Why is he in the news? Pinnock led the Dentons team representing Marks & Spencer, which successfully challenged in the High Court the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities’ decision to block the redevelopment of the retailer’s store at London’s Marble Arch.

Thoughts on the case: ‘This is a helpful, clear judgment that takes things back to where they were before the decision. It confirms that there is no national policy presumption requiring retention/reuse of existing buildings. Predictability is important to giving the confidence to invest. In that sense, it is also a good reminder that in a plan-led system, what the plan requires for sites is a crucial starting point. The judgment also confirms that net-zero policies in London are focused on operational, not embodied, carbon. Understanding the whole life carbon position for development is crucial but it is not the beginning and the end. Creating places that inspire, endure and contribute to a sustainable future is the challenge. We need clearer policies nationally to avoid the opportunistic approach by objectors. But in London there is a sensible policy context which needs to be applied with clarity. The challenge, in a planning system that is wisely quite discretionary, is to be clear at the outset what the requirement (in terms of public good) is for the site.’

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said it is considering next steps.

Dealing with the media: ‘M&S have a great in-house PR and comms team and we have been involved in supporting them and external consultants throughout the process. The initial media on the case was fairly one-sided. The inquiry process exposed the assertions, assumptions and accusations that were thrown at M&S and the scheme architect for what they were.’

Why become a lawyer? ‘I have worked in the built environment since the late 1990s, starting in local government and then in consultancy. I wanted to develop a more bankable set of technical skills, stake a claim to be in the midst of decisions on schemes (having seen the way that large teams worked on big regeneration projects) and made a snap decision to switch careers in my late-20s.’

Career high: ‘The team is flying; being part of that makes a demanding job worthwhile. There have been some great wins along the way.’

Career low: ‘I took a week of paternity leave and missed far too many of my daughter’s bathtimes when she was little – you don’t get that back.’