The solicitor who established the right to practise from ground-floor public-facing premises has died aged 71.

Until the 1990s, planning regulations restricted solicitor offices to Class B1 premises, effectively confining them to areas disconnected from the general public.

However Kasturi Kalra (pictured), who wanted to set up a practice catering for the minority ethnic community in Leyton, London, contested a planning inspector’s decision in a landmark case in 1995.

Kasturi Kalra v Secretary of State for Environment & Waltham Forest London Borough Council (1995) established the principle that a solicitor’s firm could be an A2 use of premises even if most visits by the public were by appointment.  

Kalra had been a civil servant for 20 years before being called to the bar in 1984. He then qualified as a solicitor with the aim of serving Leyton’s north Indian community, three of whose languages he spoke.

He bought premises but was refused planning permission for a change of use. After an appeal to the secretary of state was dismissed he appealed under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 and the case eventually reached the Court of Appeal.

In October 1995 it ruled that the planning objection be quashed, with one appeal judge drawing an analogy between solicitors’ practices and an off licence.

Kalra practised successfully at 304 High Street Leyton until his death in December. ‘He became a highly popular and respected figure in the local community over the past two decades and will be sadly missed by his family and all those who knew him and were served by him,’ his son-in-law Steve Bennett said.