Academic profile

Alistair Mills is a Senior Teaching Associate in Law at the Department of Land Economy, as well as being Dean, Fellow, and Dias College Assistant Professor in Law at Magdalene College.  He practised as a barrister for many years, specialising in planning and environmental law, and he remains an Associate Member of Landmark Chambers in London.


Alistair’s research interests are in planning and environmental law, administrative law, and the law of contract.  Much of his research arises from difficult issues which arise in the practice of planning and environmental law, which nevertheless raise questions of academic interest.  His 2014 article on costs, permission and interested parties was cited by the Supreme Court in CPRE Kent v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2021] UKSC 36.  He is one of two Editors of Judicial Review, and an Assistant Editor of The Encyclopedia of Planning Law and Practice.


He has particular interest in policy, and his paper ‘“Not Like that”: The Interpretation of Policies, Legislation, and Contracts’ was shortlisted for the Best Paper Prize at the Society for Legal Scholars Conference in 2022.


Alistair teaches Contract Law on Paper 9 of the Tripos in the Department.  He also provides supervisions for law students in Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and the Law of Contract, and is teaching on two LLM papers in the Law Faculty.

Research interests

Policies provide an extremely important part of the decision-making framework in relation to the control of land use and development in the United Kingdom.  The legal approach to challenges to, and arising from, such policies raises significant legal and practical questions.  In his recent research, Alistair has sought to explain why the correct interpretation of a policy should be treated as a matter of law, for the court to decide.  He has also provided a principle to guide courts in carrying out such an exercise of interpretation.  National planning policy can also be understood in the context of wider international environmental law principles, and Alistair has set out the relationship between English national planning policy and the idea of intergenerational equity, especially with reference to climate change.  Independent from the correct interpretation of such policies, it is possible to challenge whether a policy is lawful in the first place; a forthcoming research project endeavours to consider the courts’ approach to that issue.




‘The Interpretation of Policies in Administrative Law: the Significance of Audience’ Legal Studies (FirstView)

‘Meeting Lofty Aspirations? English National Planning Policy, International Law, and Climate Change’ Climate Law (Advance Article)

‘The Scottish Parliament, the Supreme Court, and an Independence Referendum?’ [2023] Judicial Review 43 (with Matthew Psycharis)

‘The Interpretation of Planning Policy: The Role of the Court’ [2022] Journal of Environmental Law 419

‘Themes in Recent Cases on Permitted Development Rights in Planning’ [2019] Judicial Review 296

‘The Environmental Civil Sanctions Regime’ [2019] Judicial Review 1

‘An Update on Consultation’ [2015] Judicial Review 160

‘Costs, Permission and Interested Parties’ [2014] Judicial Review 173

‘The “Makes No Difference” Controversy’ [2013] Judicial Review 124

‘The Uncertain Future of Walford v Miles’ [2011] Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly 528 (with Rebecca Loveridge)




A Practical Guide to Permitted Changes of Use, 4th edn, Bath Publishing, 2022 (ed, with Martin Goodall and David Evans)

Interpreting the NPPF: The New National Planning Policy Framework (Bath Publishing, 2018)


Case Notes

‘Undue reticence on undue influence?’ [2023] Cambridge Law Journal 21

‘Friends of the Earth: At the Intersection of Environmental and Administrative Law?’ [2021] Journal of Environmental Law 461

‘Judicial Pushback – National Airports Policy Grounded’ [2020] Cambridge Law Journal 208

‘Awards by the Financial Services Ombudsman and Subsequent Litigation’ [2014] Professional Negligence 162

‘Regina (Buckinghamshire County Council and others) v. Secretary of State for Transport’ Rev Euro Comp & Int Env Law, 23:275 (with James Maurici QC)

‘The Requirement of an Oral Hearing in Judicial Review Claims’ [2012] Judicial Review 326

‘Lawyers Funding Litigation: A Costly Business’ [2012] Professional Negligence 134

‘The Fitness of the Fitness to Practise Panel’ [2011] Professional Negligence 230

‘Taking a (Taxi) Stand on Legitimate Expectations’ [2011] Cambridge Law Journal 287


Planning Law, Environmental Law, Administrative Law, Private Law

Research Centres

Cambridge Centre for Property Law

Centre for Public Law

Cambridge Private Law Centre