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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > South West > Real estate > Social housing > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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Index of tables

  1. Social housing
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Rising stars

Rising stars

  1. 1

At Ashfords LLP, the ‚Äėexcellent‚Äô social housing team handles both contentious and non-contentious work for large registered providers, housing associations and local authorities. In 2018, the firm strengthened its social housing offering by hiring practice co-head Paul Butterworth, associate Isabelle Clement¬†and legal director Derek Moore, who all joined from TLT. Butterworth specialises in property and development work in the social housing sector, which is also an area of focus for Exeter-based Tim Heal. Led by Sian Gibbon, the practice also has a strength in housing litigation and tenancy management. Elizabeth Gibson¬†advises on procurement and planning. Associate Marjorie Hill¬†is recommended for contentious matters.

Practice head(s):Sian Gibbon; Paul Butterworth; Tim Heal

Other key lawyers:Isabelle Clement; Elizabeth Gibson; Marjorie Hill

Testimonials

Ashfords’ team stands out due to its strength and depth of knowledge

You rarely need to leave a message, as someone is always there and ready to assist you with advice

A highly committed, reliable and experienced team which provides excellent services

This is the go-to firm for landlord and tenant, social housing and leasehold disputes

'Sian Gibbon provides the team with expert leadership'

'Marjorie Hill and Sian Gibbon are always friendly and dedicated to provide high-level assistance at all times'

'Isabelle Clement is very thorough and knowledgeable'

Key Clients

Sovereign Housing Association

LiveWest Homes

The Guinness Partnership

Evolve Housing and Support

Cornerstone Housing

London Borough of Wandsworth

St. Mungo's Community Housing Association

HFL Group

Brick by Brick Croydon

Aster Group

Homes England

Curo

Work highlights

  • Acting for The Guinness Partnership on a highly complex housing possession matter involving capacity issues on the part of the tenant.
  • Assisting The London Boroughs of Wandsworth and Richmond with multiple non-routine litigation matters.
  • Acting for LiveWest Homes on the purchase and the development of section 106 affordable housing at North Yate.   
  • Advising Brick by Brick Croydon on a development programme, including approximately 40 schemes aiming to deliver 1,400 housing units over the next few years.
  • Assisting HFL Group with a full range of services including an application to become a registered provider, among other matters.

The ‚Äėquick, supportive and knowledgeable‚Äô team at TLT¬†offers a complete range of legal services, such as property development, planning, plot sales, construction, property litigation, procurement and tax. Other areas of expertise include housing and asset management, employment, health and safety, and project finance. Clients include registered providers, local authorities and private contractors. David Isaacson, who specialises in corporate and commercial issues, advises on local authority housing vehicles, housing stock transfers, arms length management organisations, and constitutional and governance matters. Department head Kane Kirkbride¬†has expertise in the impact of welfare reforms on registered providers. Siobhan Fitzgerald¬†handles contentious and advisory employment matters for social housing clients.

Practice head(s):Kane Kirkbride; Linda Convery

Other key lawyers:David Isaacson; Siobhan Fitzgerald

Testimonials

The team is quick and competent

The team is very competent and advises efficiently on merger options and HR matters

TLT adds value and invests effort into contributing to the commercial awareness of its clients

Kane Kirkbride is skilled, experienced and knowledgeable, and has enviable expertise in social and supported housing matters

David Isaacson and Siobhan Fitzgerald are particularly helpful

Key Clients

Swan Housing Group

The Guinness Partnership

Peabody Trust

One Housing Group

Saxon Weald Homes Ltd

Aster Homes

Catalyst Housing Ltd

Knightstone Housing Association Ltd

Notting Hill Housing Trust

Southern Housing

Work highlights

  • Acting for Aster Communities on two schemes in collaboration with local Community Land Trusts.
  • Acting for Curo Places on the acquisition of 65 units from Bloor Homes.
  • Acting for Stonewater on the acquisition of 40 dwellings from Davidsons Developments and Wilson Enterprises.
  • Representing Shal Housing in a complex possession case.
  • Advising Southern Housing Group on a number of housing management disputes.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP‚Äôs housing and regeneration team functions on a standalone basis in Exeter, and also works with the London-based group to advise clients nationwide. Reflective of its standing in the market, it has a track record of acting for housing associations, which dates back more than 50 years. In addition, it acts for new entrants to the affordable housing sector. . The ‚Äėhighly knowledgeable‚Äô Joseph Acton, who heads up the team in Exeter, has a strong profile in property and development transactions, and also has extensive expertise in governance and corporate issues. Rachel Carter¬†is experienced in joint ventures and development projects.

Practice head(s):Joseph Acton; Tonia Secker

Other key lawyers:Rachel Carter

Testimonials

The team is composed of specialists which have extensive knowledge of the social housing sector

The team is great at handling land acquisitions, acquisition of section 106 schemes from developers, and shared ownership disposals

Joseph Acton is recommended for governance and procedural issues

Joseph Acton always makes himself quickly available to discuss issues and ideas and to share his extensive knowledge

Key Clients

LiveWest Homes

Galliford Try Partnerships

North Devon Homes

Aster Group

The Guinness Partnership

Westward Housing Group

Yarlington Housing Group

Plymouth Community Homes

East Devon District Council

Radian Homes

Curo Places

Verto Housing

Teign Housing

Ocean Housing

United Communities

Work highlights

  • Advising North Devon Homes on the acquisition, development and regeneration of a prominent, formerly industrial development site in Barnstaple, providing a mixed-use scheme of 37 affordable homes and 135 marketing homes, in addition to retail and community facilities.
  • Advising Devon and Cornwall Housing Group on a number of corporate and property matters relating to the merger of two of the largest social housing providers in the South West.
  • Advising Galliford Try on the acquisition of a brownfield site in Penzance, comprising part of the Cornwall Land Initiative with Cornwall Council.
  • Advising LiveWest Homes on the acquisition of a brownfield site in Penwith, as part of a housing delivery partnership.
  • Advising Curo Places on the acquisition and development of six development sites in Bristol and Bath.

Bevan Brittan LLP combines skillsets across multiple disciplines to provide a comprehensive range of services. Its acts for over 70 housing associations and also generates work from local authorities, developers and funders. The firm is well-known for its strengths in property and development work, which includes assisting housing associations with site acquisitions (for development) and joint ventures. It also has a strong capability in social housing corporate and finance matters; areas of expertise in this space include bond finance, development finance, corporate acquisitions and disposals and housing association mergers. Elsewhere, the firm excels in construction, planning and housing management. Alison Buckingham, who leads the social housing team in the South West, is the key contact among housing providers for advice on high-value and complex development schemes. Jonathan Turner is the overall head of the housing group nationally.

Practice head(s):Jonathan Turner; Alison Buckingham

Key Clients

Places for People Group

Sovereign Housing Association

Yarlington Housing Group

LiveWest Homes

Sanctuary Housing Group

L&Q Group

Catalyst Housing Group

Network Homes

Peabody Group

Hyde Group

Work highlights

  • Advising Places for People Group on its development of a derelict, brownfield site known as Dove Lane in central Bristol.
  • Advising Hyde Group on its £100m strategic partnership with Homes England.
  • Advising the developer East Wick and Sweetwater Projects Limited (an incorporated JV formed by Places for People and Balfour Beatty Investments) on its procurement and contracting strategy for the supply chain arrangements to deliver a 1500 unit project.
  • Advising Catalyst Housing Group on the procurement and contract arrangements for the asset management of its housing stock.
  • Advising Peabody Group on the Thamesmead Waterfront housing project.

The ‚Äėefficient and dependable‚Äô social housing team at Clarke Willmott LLP¬†acts for a growing number of registered providers and housing associations. Working with the firm‚Äôs other offices nationwide, the team in the South West provides full service support to regional and national clients.¬†It has excellent credentials in all aspects of commercial property and development work, which includes land acquisitions and disposals, construction, development and housing management. A separate commercial property team assists clients with managing their property portfolios, while a property litigation group handles¬†contentious work in connection with leasehold issues and development disputes. Elsewhere, a partner-led corporate team undertakes a wide range of transactions for social housing clients, and also provides advice on governance and regulatory issues.¬†Kary Withers¬†is the overall head of the practice, with other key figures including¬†Oliver Smedley,¬†Helen Wittram,¬†Anna-Liisa Blanks-Walden¬†and¬†Kate Saunders.

Practice head(s):Kary Withers; Oliver Smedley; Helen Wittram; Anna-Liisa Blanks-Walden

Testimonials

A very dependable and experienced team who provides excellent services

Team members are highly competent and happy to answer all questions

Allowing excellent access to partners, client service is certainly a strength of the firm

Kary Withers provides competent advice in a friendly manner, which is also easy to understand

Helen Wittram is a great and highly experienced communicator, who is also dedicated and easy to contact

Key Clients

Advantage South West

Alliance Homes Group

Yarlington Housing

Aster Group

The Guinness Partnership

United Communities

GreenSquare Group

LiveWest

London and Quadrant Housing Trust

Magna Housing Association

Sovereign Housing Association

Raven Housing Trust

Work highlights

  • Acting for Curo Places as interested party in defending a judicial review application, brought by local residents objecting to Curo’s proposed redevelopment plans of Foxhills.
  • Represented Stonewater in the acquisition of development land for one of a large affordable housing scheme.
  • Acted For GreenSquare Group on the acquisition of 116 units across a new development site in Swindon.
  • Representing Optivo in bringing claims concerning breach of contract against a seller seeking return of its deposit.
  • Acted for the client on the high-value acquisitions of multiple section 106 units.

Stephens Scown LLP has been a key player in the social housing sector for nearly 30 years, which has enabled it build up a sizeable base of regional and national clients. Its team provides a full range of services on issues concerning property, employment, corporate governance, dispute resolution and data protection. The firm has successfully won tenders for work from many of the main housing associations in the South West, and it also acts for more specialist rural housing associations located throughout England and Wales. Practice head Keith Wright specialises in rural housing association initiatives. Hilary Pitts advises on site acquisitions and infrastructure agreements in the social housing sector.

Practice head(s):Keith Wright

Other key lawyers:Hilary Pitts

Key Clients

Hastoe Housing Association

English Rural Housing Association

Cornwall Rural Housing Association

Cornwall Community Land Trust

Coastline Housing

LiveWest

Westward Housing

Yarlington Housing Group

South Devon Rural Housing Association

Magna Housing

Work highlights

  • Advised LiveWest on the £125m acquisition of sites as well as acting on all contractual arrangements related to the client's project.
  • Assisting English Rural Housing Association with a number of site acquisitions nationwide.
  • Advising Hastoe Housing Association on site acquisitions, as well as on the client's sale of housing stock.
  • Advised Cornwall Rural Housing Association on development sites on The Lizard and Menheniot, which are part rented and part for sale.
  • Advised Hastoe Housing Association on minimising its liability under the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010.

Tozers Solicitors LLP is a well-known name among regional and national registered providers, for whom it provides a wide range of services. It is particularly strong in property work, an area which is led by Stephen Burtchaell; in this space, the firm advises on development and regeneration, infrastructure agreements, stock transfers and property finance, among other matters. The group is also sought out to advise on mergers between registered providers, as well as housing management and employment issues. Burtchaell leads the practice.

Practice head(s):Stephen Burtchaell

Testimonials

One lawyer supports the client throughout the whole process, which allows for excellent consistency of service

Stephen Burtchaell stands out for his commitment to providing clear advice and for his genuine spirit of support and willingness to go the extra mile for his clients

Key Clients

LiveWest Homes

Yarlington Housing Group

Stonewater

Plymouth Community Homes

North Devon Homes

Coastline Housing

The Guinness Partnership

Cornerstone Housing

South Western Housing Society

South Devon Rural Housing Association

Brunelcare

Ymca Bath

Ymca Bridgwater

Sandbourne Housing Association

Westward Housing Group

Octavia Housing

Cirencester Housing Society

White Horse Housing Association

Rickmansworth Churches Housing Association

Advance Housing and Support

Aston-Mansfield Charitable Trust

Merlin Housing Society

Phoenix Community Housing Association

Northampton Partnership Homes

Wellingborough Homes

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