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  1. Commercial property: Elsewhere in the East Midlands
  2. Leading individuals (region-wide)

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Gateley Plc counts local authorities, developers and investors among its clients. Real estate finance expert Colin Gittus acts for both lenders and borrowers in property transactions, while practice head Simon Taylor handles investment matters as well as residential and commercial development schemes. Work highlights included advising Simons Developments with the £16m acquisition, pre-letting and funding of a proposed retail park development, and acting for Southampton City Council in matters arising from the city’s £100m Watermark Leisure Scheme. It also assisted Barberry Developments with the sale of the former Royal Mail Building to Coventry University, and advised on the letting, forward funding and development of a new facility for Clowes Development.

Hewitsons advises retailers, warehouse and office owners, and automotive clients on commercial development schemes and assists owner-managed businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises, private trusts and private individuals with asset and portfolio management. It also handles residential development work, property matters in the public sector and project financing. Patricia Kempson managed recent transactional work and leasehold agreements for Mansfield College, Oxford, and advised Lillingston Family Trusts on the refurbishment and subsequent letting of a dilapidated listed Georgian building. The ‘very professional and knowledgeableMarc Carter is experienced in ‘negotiating complex contracts featuring onerous clauses’, and Claire Howard-Amos is another name to note. Clients also included Glanmoor Investments, Delapre Abbey Preservation Trust and Medigold Health Consultancy.

The ‘consistently impressive’ team at Howes Percival LLP acts for clients such as Charles Street Buildings Group, Raynsway Group and Motorvogue (Northampton). Key contacts include Stuart Burns, who advises occupiers on property investment schemes and strategic residential and commercial transactions, and property development specialist Nicholas James, who manages all aspects of sales and acquisitions for regional developers and landowners. The group also advises on real estate finance and all aspects of landlord and tenants relations. Recent work includes assisting an investment group with the financing of a construction project in the retail sector.

Spearing Waite LLP’s ‘very strong’ team is praised for its ‘commercial acumen and industry knowledge’. Expertise includes assisting with plot sales, managing leases and handling property finance matters, as well as advising on specialist matters such as land promotion agreements and options. In line with the firm’s prominent experience in retail sector, the client base features Bonmarche, Dreams, Optical Express and other household names. Practice head Tom Bower assisted a major retailer with the sale of two leasehold stores in a prime location; Richard Wyvill acted for Brayford Holdings in relation to the complex refinancing of a large property in Lincoln, involving multiple freehold titles and a long leasehold; and Karen Herbert assisted a residential developer with a high-value land acquisition. Nisha Gohel is also recommended.

The ‘thorough and knowledgeable’ group at Wilkin Chapman LLP is led by the ‘experienced, calm, commercial and switched-onRuth Brewin, and acts for clients such as Galliford, Linden Homes, Cyden Homes and Acis Development. Peter Hanson advised National Westminster Bank on the £3m financing of three residential apartment blocks. In other work, the firm is handling a development project as part of the wider regeneration initiative in Grimsby town centre. Paul Tollerton specialises in high-value residential development work, while social and affordable housing is Rachael Perry’s area of focus. Nikki Hawkins recently made partner and Piet van Gelder joined Spearing Waite LLP.

BHW Solicitors handles both property finance and development matters, acting for clients such as UK Mail Group, Gardner Group, Nationwide Access and Next Holdings. Practice head Julie White is leading a team assisting the latter with the incorporation of concessions as part of Next’s stores nationwide. Beverley Merrell handles property work for Natwest, following the firm’s appointment to the bank’s panel, and she also advised Marks Electrical on its relocation project. Other work included acting for Freedman & Partners in various matters pertaining to £19m in loans obtained from a peer-to-peer lending platform. Sarah Newcombe and Kate Chorley are also recommended.

The team at Weightmans LLP provides ‘excellent service and great attention to detail’, and is particularly well known for its activity in the retail and leisure sectors. It also handles property-related work for local authorities and education institutions as well as advising on public sector regeneration projects and a variety of commercial and residential developments. Landlord and tenant relations are another area of focus. Richard Osborn, who is ‘flexible, adaptive and responsive to clients’ needs’, is managing the £37m property portfolio for Strada Trading and acting for Persimmon regarding a major residential development project in Loughborough. Osborn is also assisting Santander with high-value refinancing and secured lending transactions, including providing a £7m facility for Panorama Property Investments. Other work saw the firm handle the sale of the former Speedo headquarters in Nottingham to Westleigh Developments and continues to advise Loughborough University with portfolio management, including site acquisitions and disposals. Sophie Philippon-Thomas joined Davitt Jones Bould.

Freeths LLP provides ‘first-rate advice backed up by great background research and reasoning’. Simon Abbott, who heads the practice, advised a tenant on the grant of a lease and refurbishment programme for a dilapidated office property. Other highlights included advising a client on the purchase of an office building in central London. The ‘utterly thoroughSam Pancholi is recommended for property acquisition matters.

Langleys Solicitors LLP handles a range of property transactions, as well as managing portfolio changes and title issues pertaining to academy conversions. Property investment specialist Sarah Milescombines legal expertise with a finely tuned commercial instinct’ and ‘cuts to the chase to provide effective solutions’; she recently advised on the acquisition of an ex-council city centre site for a commercial and residential redevelopment project. Peter Horner is also recommended.

Nelsons Solicitors Limited assists developers, landowners, banks, charities, retailers and education institutions, among others, with a range of transactions and projects. Practice head James Coningsby managed over £20m of secured lending transactions for Cambridge and Counties Bank and advised GS Developments on its purchase of a development site in Leicester. Other highlights included acting for Abode Group in property acquisitions up to a value of £42m, assisting IMAP Student with the refinancing of a £6m mixed-use property, and handling land purchases for Westleigh Partnerships.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s team specialises in residential and commercial developments, acting for national and regional housebuilders, developers, promoters, landowners and corporate occupiers. The firm is well known for managing property portfolios for retailers, and has a solid track record handling projects involving affordable housing, student accommodation and developments in the industrial sector. Highlights included advising Parkers of Leicester on the disposal of agricultural property, assisting Emma Bridgewater with the acquisition of a new distribution factory and warehouse, and acting for CODE Student Accommodation during the purchase of a city centre site for a new student residential project. Kate Hall and Martin Jones are key contacts.

Thomas Warrender heads the practice at Wilson Browne Solicitors, where the client base includes private and corporate landowners, developers, building societies and banks. The team handles matters such as promotion agreements, ownership transfers, financing transactions and agricultural property matters.

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