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  1. Commercial property: Newcastle
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Who Represents Who

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The ‘knowledgeable team’ at Bond Dickinson LLP is ‘second-to-none; it isn’t afraid to take on a challenge, going above and beyond to achieve exactly what the client wants’. John Ralph and Nigel Emmerson jointly head the ‘impeccable’ practice, which advises developers, investors and corporate occupiers such as Standard Life, Bellway Homes and Arriva on a regional and national level. Grainger is a key client for Emmerson; he recently advised it on multiple residential property portfolio acquisitions totalling £220m and handled the property due diligence of a £325m sale of a retirement solutions business to Turbo Group Holdings. ‘A leader in the field’, Barbara Painter focuses on the education, chemical and manufacturing sectors and is singled out for her ‘incredible attention to detail, flawless advice and sheer determination’. Other key individuals include urban regeneration and residential development specialist Ian Ward; Michael Brown, who is highly regarded for his transport expertise; housebuilding expert Duncan Fisher, who recently advised Kingston Property Services on several open space acquisitions; and managing associate John Booth, who ‘always gets the job done’.

DWF’s ‘superbly committed team’ has ‘incredible strength and depth in the region’ and ‘a no-nonsense approach; it adds value on every level’. Adam Heather heads the practice and ‘provides pragmatic advice combined with an excellent understanding of clients and their needs’. He recently led advice to Arch Commercial Enterprise on its £78m purchase of Manor Walks Shopping Centre and its £36m acquisition of Westmorland Retail Park. Heather also advised Hanro on the sale of various assets at Strawberry Place to Kier Developments and handled the completion of a building lease for a £92m housing scheme for Homes and Communities Agency. Also recommended are Lee Pickett, who made partner in 2016 and specialises in housing and public-sector developments; senior associates Richard Lomax and Sarah Crone, who are ‘best in class’; and senior associate Mark Tait, who focuses on development and financing work. Benjamin Done joined Cornerstone Law Limited and Gavin Jackson retired.

Muckle LLPexcels on all counts’ with clients singling out the practice’s ‘technical and in-depth knowledge, exceptional response times and very practical approach’. Areas of expertise for the group include real estate acquisitions and disposals, portfolio management, residential developments, real estate finance and joint ventures. Practice head and property development specialist Jonathan Combe is advising Newcastle University on the development and construction of Newcastle Science Central, and is assisting Sunderland Music, Arts & Culture Trust with its acquisition of the former Sunderland Fire Station. Will McKay is acting for McAleer & Rushe Group on the Newgate Centre redevelopment and the ‘straight-talking’ Gail Bennett (who made partner in 2016) is assisting Swedish building company Trivselhus with UK development plans. Other clients include Atom Bank and Home Group; McKay advised the latter on the sale of a private rented sector portfolio to William Pears Group. Adrian Hill joined Cornerstone Law Limited.

Under the leadership of Mark Dobbin, Sintons LLP’s practice handles the full gamut of real estate issues including commercial and residential developments, portfolio management and property investments, with particular emphasis on the healthcare, energy, leisure, hospitality and agricultural sectors. Dobbin is advising the Freehold Income Authorised Fund on multiple portfolio acquisitions, including the acquisition of a freehold reversion in a block of flats in Milton Keynes. Other clients include Banks Group, The Church Commissioners for England, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Lloyds Bank. Dobbins’s team includes Paul Liddle, who regularly acts on high-profile developments and investment projects; Victoria Armstrong, who specialises in the healthcare sector; Alok Loomba, who advises leisure, hospitality and healthcare clients; Laura Peace, who focuses on landlord and tenant matters; and Tom Wills, who is the ‘go-to’ name for agricultural mandates. Consultant Alan Harkness leads the firm’s residential development team, which acts for major housebuilders including Barratt Homes and Cussins.

A truly excellent firm to deal with’, Ward Hadaway provides ‘a service that is hugely proactive, responsive, commercial and professional’. Neil Robson leads the nine-partner group, which includes property development expert Alex Cox, the ‘highly experienced’ Simon Errington (who ‘always goes the extra mile’) and the ‘extremely accessible’ Heather Markham. Recent highlights include advising multiple housebuilders (including Barratt Homes, David Wilson Homes and Linden Homes) on plot sales, all of which were led by development team head Lesley Fairclough and included the firm’s specialist plot sales team. In other key mandates the team handled the development of a new campus for City of Sunderland College and assisted Foundation of Light with the development of an education and sports facility. Newcastle International Airport and Newcastle Science Central are also clients; commercial partner Colin Hewitt advised the latter on the property issues relating to the transfer of land for development purposes.

Nicola Tiffen leads the four-partner department at Hay & Kilner and handles the full range of commercial property issues; she recently acted for Westway Veterinary Group and Value Vets on the sale of the partnership’s assets and is acting for Ken Brown Agencies on a new lease for a premises in York. Richard Freeman-Wallace, who specialises in development, investment and property management work as well as property finance matters, recently advised Robertson Simpson on the refinancing of a portfolio of residential properties and assisted Pinlee Investments with the financing for the expansion of its property portfolio. Persimmon Homes, Hellens Group and Anvil Homes are also clients. The highly regarded Paul Taylor advises on matters concerning freehold and leasehold properties.

Short Richardson & Forth regularly acts for owner-managed property companies, SMEs and high-net-worth individuals on portfolio issues, property sales, investments and landlord and tenant matters. In a recent highlight, the team advised High Gosforth Park on the redevelopment of part of the Newcastle Racecourse, which involved planning and lease renewal issues. The department also handled a lease renewal for Morplan relating to a retail park in Bristol, and assisted C&R Stevens Estates with the purchase of a property in Stoke. Peter Stevens Estates, Wordie Properties and Lowrie Foods are also clients. Paul Earnshaw leads the practice, which includes Peter Hall and assistant solicitor Claire Devapal.

The ‘extremely efficient and excellent’ team at Watson Burton LLP is ‘always an asset in property transactions’. Libbie Henderson heads the practice and specialises in commercial and residential developments as well as land-based energy projects and mines and minerals issues. She recently led advice to Bellway Yorkshire on the acquisition of land at Spofforth Hill and advised Bellway North East on the acquisition of land at Killingworth, which will be used for an affordable housing development. Henderson also assisted Camerons Brewery with the property elements of its acquisition of the Leeds Brewery Company. Other clients include Northern Powergrid, Wellspring Academy Trust and Wear Inns. Julie Farrell-Knowles has notable expertise in academy conversions, social housing issues and development work.

Stephanie Green leads the practice at Hempsons and focuses on advising clients in the health and charity sectors, including GP practices, for whom she handles the acquisition of new premises and the assignment of property interest following partnership retirements. The team’s experience also encompasses the education sector, where it acts for local authorities, academy trusts and sponsors. Further areas of expertise include estate management, landlord and tenant issues, acquisitions of freehold and leasehold properties, joint ventures, and property development matters.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP’s department is headed by development expert Ryan Bannon, who also handles investments and landlord and tenant mandates. The group regularly advises hotel owners, property investors, retailers, care home owners and leisure-sector businesses. Clients include Lugano Group, Northern Bear, David Morgan and Perfect Image. Malcolm Wood joined the practice from Square One Law in late 2016; he has notable expertise in landlord and tenant issues, portfolio management, property investments and the property elements of corporate transactions.

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