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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



Index of tables

  1. Social housing
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Joseph Acton - Trowers & Hamlins LLP
    • Stephen Burtchaell - Tozers Solicitors LLP

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Isabelle Clement - TLT

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The social housing department at TLT acts primarily for housing developers and handles social housing related acquisitions and regeneration projects. Department head Paul Butterworth provides ongoing advice to Swan in relation to the £250m regeneration of a 1960s housing estate in Tower Hamlets. He is also assisting Notting Hill Housing with the purchase of 550 properties for the purpose of renovation and use for social housing. Butterworth and associate Isabelle Clement are acting for Aster Communities and Aster Homes on the acquisition of 503 affordable housing units across ten schemes in the South West. The department’s dedicated plot sales practice acts for housing groups such as Knightstone Housing Association, Catalyst Housing and Swan Housing Group on high-volume plot sales. Other clients include local authorities.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP has a comprehensive social housing practice in the South West that ‘consistently exceeds client expectations’ and attracts praise for its ‘outstanding sector knowledge and commercial approach’. The team handles every aspect of large regeneration and social housing projects and was further strengthened in 2016 by the arrival of the ‘friendly and professional’ Georgina Savill-James, who joined the team from Foot Anstey. Joseph Acton heads the Exeter offering and is acting for Galliford Try Partnerships and Westco Properties in relation to the Cornwall Land Initiative, which aims to develop 11 sites in Cornwall providing approximately 300 affordable homes. In one particularly high-value matter, Rachel Carter advised Westco Properties on a JV with Devonshire Homes regarding the £50m development of 185 open-market and affordable housing units at Wellspark Crediton. Carter and Acton are providing ongoing advice to The Guinness Partnership on the disposal of its shared ownership sites throughout Southern England. Managing associate Jessica Church was involved in the securitisation of 1600 properties owned by Synergy for the purpose of a bond issuance to Affordable Housing Finance. The team’s other clients include Devon and Cornwall Housing Group, Selwood Housing and Linden Limited, as well as a number of local authorities.

Ashfords LLP acts for some of the largest social housing landlords in the UK and also acts for local authorities in contentious and non-contentious housing matters. Joint department head Sian Gibbon (‘the driving force behind the team’s success’) acts for The Guinness Partnership in connection with contentious housing matters, while fellow head Tim Heal acted for a housing association on a high-value acquisition of land and affordable housing units in Gloucestershire. Mark Moore negotiated a sensitive land acquisition on behalf of Knightstone Housing Association in 2016. The team was strengthened in 2016 with the arrival of Michael Gay, who joined the firm from Foot Anstey and focuses on development acquisition work.

Bevan Brittan LLP acts for large housing groups and local authorities on contentious and non-contentious social housing matters. Alison Buckingham is providing ongoing assistance to Yarlington Housing Group, which entered into an option agreement with Persimmon Homes for the development of affordable units at a large development site in Taunton. Jonathan Turner heads the housing practice and advised Places for People and Urban Splash in a joint venture development partnership in relation to a £150m brownfield regeneration project. The team also handles procurement contracts for maintenance and service in connection with housing schemes, as well as housing disputes.

Clients of Clarke Willmott LLP rate its willingness to provide ‘advice rather than options’. The practice acts for registered providers on a wide variety of housing matters, including site acquisitions, development, financing and securitisation. ‘Invaluable’ practice head Oliver Smedley is advising The Guinness Partnership on a high-value land acquisition and planned development of open market and affordable housing units in Bristol. Smedley also acted for Aster Group on a joint venture agreement with Galliford Try. Other key individuals include Helen Wittram, who focuses on social housing development work and advised on multimillion-pound acquisitions of affordable housing units from multiple national housebuilders. Kary Withers leads the property litigation team and handles a variety of housing disputes.

Stephens Scown LLP provides ‘excellent service at every level, from partner all the way to receptionist’. It has particular experience acting for community land trusts and specialist rural housing associations. The ‘proactive and approachable’ Hilary Pitts acted for Devon & Cornwall Housing on multiple site acquisitions, and provides ongoing advice to the same client on property transactions, standard tenancies and property disposals. Department head Keith Wright (who is praised for his ‘extensive knowledge’) acts as sole legal adviser to English Rural Housing Association. Tim Atkins handles site acquisitions and development work, in addition to property refinancing for Cornwall Rural Housing Association. Hastoe Housing Association, Yarlington Housing Group and Cornwall CLT Limited are also clients.

Foot Anstey’s social housing and housebuilder practice was strengthened in 2016 with the arrival of Martin Hirst from Blake Morgan LLP. Hirst leads the social housing offering from the Bristol office and advises registered providers on the development and funding aspects of large housing schemes. Richard Walford acted for Westco Properties in connection with its JV with Halsall Homes for the acquisition of a development site and subsequent arrangements for a golden brick transfer of affordable units to Devon & Cornwall Housing. Rachel Langley advised Ocean Housing Limited on the £4m acquisition of land for the development of affordable and social housing units in Cornwall.

The social housing department at Tozers Solicitors LLP acts for more than 20 registered providers on a national and regional level, and is experienced in transactional work, portfolio management and refinancing for registered providers and housing associations. The dedicated registered provider team is headed by Stephen Burtchaell, who acts primarily for regional housing associations on site acquisitions and subsequent developments of affordable units. In a highlight, the team is advising a social housing client on the creation of a unique ownership/management agreement concerning the structure of tenant purchase options. Simon Sanger-Anderson heads the social housing practice.

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Legal Developments in South West for Social housing

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