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Bond Dickinson LLP’s ‘excellent’ department is ‘up there with the best for social housing work’ and ‘stands out in the region for its knowledge of the field’. The team, which is ‘highly commended by those who have experienced its exceptional service levels’, acts for traditional and large-scale voluntary transfer (LSVT) housing associations, local authorities, charities, for-profit registered providers and affordable housing providers; Places for People Homes, Home Group and Plymouth Community Homes all feature on the firm’s client roster. Recent work includes acting for Four Housing Group on various tenancy management matters, including reviewing tenancy agreements and bringing possession claims and injunctions with the ultimate aim of tackling anti-social behaviour; assisting Three Rivers District Council with the regeneration of South Oxhey; and advising Luton Borough Council on the formation of a company with a focus on building affordable homes for sale and rent. Residential property specialist Nigel Emmerson heads the department, which includes associates Ian Hellawell and David Hambler; Hambler is recommended for contentious issues.

At DWF, Lee Pickett focuses on development, regeneration and investment mandates; his recent highlights include advising Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) on the development agreement for a £92m housing scheme, and acting for Stockton Borough Council on a scheme to create an urban retirement village in Stockton. He also assisted Riverside Group with conditional development agreements for affordable housing units across the North. The practice acts for a host of registered providers and local authorities, including Together Housing Group, Derwentside Housing and Durham County Council. It is also on the HCA and the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) panels. Other areas of coverage include social housing finance, housing management and disputes. Senior associate Kelly Pearson focuses on affordable housing and regeneration matters, including development programmes and large-scale stock rationalisation.

Clients of Muckle LLP’s ‘excellent’ team cite its ‘exceptional service levels, commercial approach and pragmatism’ as key strengths. Russell Hall, who ‘brings an unmatched insight to every problem’, leads the ‘well-known and respected’ practice, which includes the ‘bright, enthusiastic and helpful’ Charlotte McMurchie; large-scale social housing development expert Will McKay; and banking partner Louise Duffy. Clients include Four Housing Group and Home Group; McKay recently advised the latter on its national asset management and stock rationalisation project. The team also recently assisted Amethyst Homes with a multi-phase development in Consett and is handling new lease arrangement negotiations for YMCA North Tyneside.

Leeds-based John Murray leads Ward Hadaway’s ‘highly impressive, responsive and client-focused’ team, which includes the ‘strategically excellent’ Helen O’Neill and ‘outstanding’ associate Julia Thomson in Newcastle. In a recent highlight, O’Neill advised Inclusion Housing on issues concerning more than 40 national housing schemes, including multiple developments and acquisitions. She also acted for the newly established County Durham Housing Group on its first property acquisitions, assisted Bernicia with its North-focused investment and development programme, and provided development and property advice to Thirteen. The firm also acts for a number of registered housing providers. Other key clients include Leeds and Yorkshire Housing Association, Notting Hill Housing Trust and Muir Group Housing Association. Kamran Hyder is recommended for planning matters.

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