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  1. Commercial property: Newcastle
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Who Represents Who

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Praised for its ‘commercial and pragmatic advice’, the ‘highly responsive’ team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has a strong profile for private rented sector matters, build to rent projects and commercial work, and acts for an impressive client roster which includes national housebuilders and financial institutions alongside energy, education and transport sector clients. Barbara Painter advised Teesside University on the acquisition of a site in Darlington from the Homes and Communities Agency for the construction of a National Horizons Centre, while the ‘very good’ Michael Brown assisted the Beamish Museum with lease matters. He also advised Standard Life Aberdeen and Curtis Banks on several transactional, lease and landlord licence matters, and handled various acquisitions of commercial property portfolios in the West Midlands and the North East for Buccleuch Property. Acting for several major national developers and investment clients, Tom Willows advised Bellway’s Durham division on various site acquisitions throughout County Durham and Teesside totalling approximately 350 residential units. Other key figures include national real estate team head John Ralph, Nigel Emmerson, who heads the public and private housing and residential investment sector team, and regeneration and residential development project expert Ian Ward. Managing associate John Booth is also recommended. Duncan Fisher moved to DAC Beachcroft LLP in February 2018.

DWF regularly handles investment and property portfolio management matters, regeneration and development projects as well as landlord and tenant issues. Team head Adam Heather acted for Newcastle-based property group Hanro on the purchase of a number of investment properties in and around the North East, and advised Arch Commercial Enterprise on the redevelopment of Ashington town centre including a new leisure centre, supermarket, petrol filling station and bus station. In other development work, senior associate Mark Tait assisted Northumberland Estates with the development of a new motor retail facility at Vroom Car Retail, North Tyneside, which included various lease matters. Other key individuals include national housing specialist Lee Pickett and housing litigation expert Jonathan Smith.

Muckle LLP is a ‘truly modern law firm’ that ‘is respectful but not constrained by the conventions of a traditional commercial law firm which can needlessly delay progress’. The ‘exceptionally commercial’ team ‘is genuinely committed to helping businesses in the region’ and provides a ‘high-quality, friendly and efficient service’ as well as ‘practical solutions’. Key areas of expertise include real estate transactions, portfolio management, joint ventures and real estate finance, where it works in conjunction with the firm’s banking and finance team. Will McKay acted for McAleer & Rushe in a forward funding transaction concerning the sale of a major Newcastle city centre development, and the ‘highly professional, experienced and technically excellent’ Gail Bennett, (who is praised for her ‘straight-forward, no-nonsense approach’) advised the housing association Home Group on portfolio funding matters with Lloyds, HSBC and Bank of Tokyo. In another highlight, James Armstrong assisted Sunderland Music, Arts & Culture Trust with the acquisition of a site within Sunderland’s cultural quarter from Sunderland City Council. Jonathan Combe heads the team, which includes Libbie Henderson, who joined from Watson Burton LLP in December 2017.

Sintons LLP's ‘strong, diligent and attentive’ team has considerable clout in the real estate arena, covering a broad range of matters such as transactions, real estate finance and portfolio management as well as landlord and tenant issues and development work. Much of its work concerns the healthcare, sport, hospitality, energy and agricultural sectors but with Laura Peace the team also has niche expertise in ecclesiastical property law. Team head Mark Dobbin advised housing developer Cussins on the purchase of a site from North Tyneside Council and the Homes and Community Agency. Also focusing on transactional work, Alok Loomba acted for the Sansec Developments Group in the acquisition of a development site. Other key members of the team include consultant and residential development expert Alan Harkness, healthcare sector specialist Victoria Armstrong and development and investment project partner Paul Liddle. Senior associate Catherine Davies is ‘excellent’ and ‘will always find a solution’, and senior associate David Ferguson joined the team from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP in January 2018.

At Ward Hadaway, public sector property head Karen Andrews acted for Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust on the acquisition of a greenfield site for the proposed development of mental health facilities, and Alex Cox advised Northumberland Estates on the acquisition of Quayside House in Newcastle. Simon Errington advised Union Retail Properties on lease and building contracts for a hotel development, and Neil Smith assisted the Foundation of Light with its development of a sports and education facility, which included occupational and infrastructure leases, funding issues and licences. Heather Markham and head of development Lesley Fairclough are other key individuals of Neil Robson’s team. Fairclough assisted various national housebuilders with plot sales and part-exchange acquisitions.

Hay & Kilner is noted for its strength advising housebuilders alongside commercial and residential developers on property transactions, portfolio management issues and lease-related matters. In the transactional space, team head Nicola Tiffen continues to act for the family-run development business Anvil Homes as well as its shareholders and pension fund on various property transactions. In portfolio-related work, Richard Freeman-Wallace assisted a client with the refinancing of a portfolio of residential investment properties.

Short Richardson & Forth’s ‘very good’ team ‘offers cost-effective solutions’ and is rated for its strength in advising on commercial property leases, as well as handling property investment matters. ‘Very practical’ team head Paul Earnshaw advised a client on the sale of a portfolio consisting of seven industrial properties, which involved various title and access issues, while solicitor Claire Devapal assisted Wordie Properties with renewal lease matters for its Manor View House in Newcastle. Peter Hall is another key member of the team.

Clients rate the ‘highly competent, friendly and approachable’ team at Watson Burton LLP for its ‘good response times, experience and professionalism’. It regularly deals with the sale, purchase and financing of large portfolios and is now led by ‘safe pair of hands’ Naren Deen, who is also noted as being ‘careful and thorough’ and having ‘excellent communication skills’, following the move of former team head Libbie Henderson to Muckle LLP in December 2017. Deen joined the firm in summer 2017 from Samuel Phillips Law Firm and has particular expertise in investment and secured lending-related work, routinely acting on the acquisition and disposal of commercial property investment assets. Recently, he advised the Bellway Group on the acquisition of four sites. In other work, the practice assisted Atkins with various letting documents. Solicitor Richard Phillips is ‘extremely knowledgeable, proactive and responsive’ and ‘always takes the time to explain complex matters in an easily understandable way’.

DAC Beachcroft LLP increased its bench strength by adding Duncan Fisher from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP in February 2018; he heads the team and acts for a broad client base, including landowners, developers, housebuilders, property investors and public sector bodies, in various matters pertaining to transactions and land developments. He works closely with senior associate Nicola Fairbairn, who acted for Newcastle Building Society in its £15m acquisition of an investment property.

The team at Mincoffs Solicitors LLP is led by Ryan Bannon, who is experienced in providing developers, investors, commercial occupiers and retailers with advice on various transactional matters, including leasehold issues. Recommended associate Rebecca Dawson joined the team from Jacksons Law in July 2017.

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