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The ‘responsive and thorough’ nine-partner team at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP provides a ‘very strong service’ to a wide-ranging client base that includes banks, developers, housebuilders, pension funds and occupiers. Reflective of the firm’s overarching sector strengths, the team is particularly strong at handling property-related work in the transport and energy sectors, with work relating to the latter sector led by the ‘very impressive’ Geraint Pullen Thomas and James Trafford. Thomas recently advised Awel Newydd Cyf on the development and subsequent sale of the 25MW Tirgwynt windfarm in Powys. David Watkins (a ‘leader in the field of real estate investment, development and finance’) and is working alongside Pullen Thomas for Inglis Consortium on the delivery of 2,174 new homes in north London. Other key figures include Kevin Booth, who heads the developers team in Cardiff; Kathryn Roberts, who handles high-volume conveyancing and insolvency management services for many of the UK's major financial institutions; and David Emberson, who has a focus on advising institutional clients across a broad spectrum of real estate work. Nefydd Jones is also recommended at a partner level. At senior associate level, Janet Morgan is noted for her ‘fantastic knowledge’ of the residential property market, and Jonathan Woodward provides a ‘conscientious and skilful service’ to a wide range of clients including corporate pension funds. Helen Thomas handles commercial property work for a raft of major transport sector clients including Transport for London and Network Rail, and also heads the firm’s international corporate real estate practice, which focuses on advising high-profile corporate occupiers from a range of industry sectors. Other clients include EDF Energy, Annington Property, Persimmon Homes and Lloyds Bank.

The ‘very commercial’ four-partner team at Acuity Legal Limited provides a ‘proactive and well-informed’ service to developers, banks and asset managers on regional matters, as well as those stretching beyond the confines of the local market. In the Welsh market, the firm remains active advising on some of the highest-profile matters including its continued involvement for Rightacres Property on the Cardiff Central Square development. ‘Solution-focused’ team head Jonathan Geen and the ‘well-informed and approachableGareth Baker advised Rightacres Property on the £36m sale of the One Central Square development to Legal & General Pensions, and Baker is advising the same client on the granting of the leases to various businesses including Hodge Bank and RBS. Praised for his ‘broad knowledge of commercial property and development’, Baker also continues to advise Associated British Ports on its key development of Dolffin Quay in Cardiff Bay. Outside of Wales, affordable housing expert Damien Cann has handled a significant amount of work for social care provider Mears Group on the regeneration and management of housing across the south and east of England, including acting alongside Geen on a joint venture (JV) with the London Borough of Bromley aimed at tackling the temporary accommodation crisis affecting the London boroughs. Cann has also carved out a niche in relation to housing healthcare work and leads on the development of retirement communities for Lifecare and care provision for C.H.O.I.C.E. Other key figures include Steve Morris, who is noted for his planning expertise and for his track record in real estate finance and development work. Other clients include Hodge Bank, Principality Building Society and West Sussex County Council.

The ‘responsive and thorough’ four-partner team at Blake Morgan LLP continues to handle a significant amount of public sector work, and has a thriving private sector practice that includes new clients such as Kier and Mansford Group. Practice head Geoff Reed and the ‘very popularPhilip Jardine led the team advising Rightacres Property (also a new client) on its JV agreement with SA Brain related to a major regeneration scheme proposed for the Brains Brewery site in central Cardiff. The ‘very experiencedJames Eganknows the local market very well and provides a commercial view to transactions’. Egan recently advised Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board on the procurement of the development of a new multi-occupied primary care facility in Anglesey. The ‘excellentNigel Griffiths has a strong reputation in the market for handling retail leasing work, where it acts for clients including Canary Wharf Group and Brookfield.

The ‘proactive and well-organised’ team at Geldards LLP has ‘excellent industry and local knowledge’, and has the critical mass and strength-in-depth to provide a ‘unified offering’ through the lifecycle of major commercial property transactions. Recent highlights include advising the Welsh government on the new Aston Martin DBX crossover vehicle plant, a highly complex transaction that involved advice on all aspects of both the upstream acquisition of the core site from the MoD and the downstream sale to Aston Martin, coupled with a Welsh government guarantee underpinning major funding from Legal & General. In another high-profile public sector mandate, team head Susanne Bradley recently advised the Welsh government on the viability of the proposed £315m Circuit of Wales race track in Ebbw Vale. The team has also been active on the private sector investment and development front; led by Ioan Owen, it recently advised Arcadis on the pre-letting agreement and lease of office premises overlooking the historic harbour side at 2 Glass Wharf, which was one of Bristol’s biggest lettings of the year. Rowland Davies is an expert in development work, while newly promoted partner Adam Thomas handles a broad array of real estate finance, portfolio and estate management work. The ‘very knowledgeable’ Michael Jeffs excels at secured lending and the ‘experienced’ Liz Ganderton provides ‘pragmatic, expedient and effective’ advice across a broad range of property matters including property development and landlord and tenant matters.Kathryn Gates provides ‘clear, concise and understandable advice’ to large corporates on the management of their property portfolios. Other clients include Admiral Insurance, Associated British Ports and Western Power Distribution.

Hugh James’s prominence in the public sector was further enhanced by its recent appointment to the NPS’s real estate framework. Headed by Caroline O’Flaherty, the firm has also been active for education clients such as Cardiff University, which the team is advising in relation to the new Centre for Student Life in the conservation area of Park Place. O’Flaherty has also been active in the private sector advising new client Keepmoat Regeneration on its agreement with Newport-based housing association Pobl Group to build 251 new homes in Newport. Team head Peter Hurn is very well regarded in the residential property sector and continues to act for Barratt Homes on the majority of its acquisitions in south Wales. The team was joined in November 2016 by Daniel Morgan, who specialises in property issues affecting clients in the leisure, betting and gaming industries, and David King, who has a niche advising on telecoms-related property matters, following the firm’s merger with MLM Cartwright. Also recommended are Yvonne Davies, for her social housing expertise, and senior associates Shelley Ikram and Christy Welsh, who have broad-ranging real estate expertise and regularly work together on multimillion-pound consortium schemes. Other clients include Walters Group, Bellway Homes and Curo Enterprise.

Led by the ‘very experienced’ Roger Berry, Berry Smith’s three-partner team has a ‘broad scope of commercial knowledge and ability’ and provides ‘very self-assured’ advice to banks (including HSBC and Handelsbanken), investors (including Ajax Developments and St Brides Investments), retailers (including Peacocks Stores and Pravins) and local authorities (including Bridgend County Borough Council and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council). The ‘excellent’ Martin Pursall has advised Principality Commercial on various loans secured on investment properties and development sites throughout the UK. The ‘very commercial’ Chris Jones (who ‘knows which points to fight and which not to’) is active across a range of matters including landlord and tenant work in the retail and leisure sector. The firm’s appointment to the NPS’s real estate lot also ensures a substantial amount of public sector work.

Recently enhanced by a number of strategic hires, most notably the arrival of Jon Ely, former head of property at Lewis Silkin LLP’s Cardiff office, Capital Law LLP has the critical mass to handle a significant volume and variety of mandates for both private and public sector clients. On the public sector front, Leanne O’Brien, Ely and construction partner Jeremy Williams have been advising the Welsh government on third party land rights affected by the planned M4 Relief Road. O’Brien also undertakes a significant amount of property work in the education sector; she is continuing to advise University of South Wales on disposal matters associated with its Caerleon campus. Justin Mason has niche expertise handling marina developments and continues to lead cross-departmental teams advising Porthcawl Harbourside CIC on a £7m regeneration project at Porthcawl Harbour, and assisting Bayscape Limited with the mixed-use scheme at Cardiff Marina. Other clients include Santander, Cardiff and Vale College, and Associated British Ports.

Headed by the ‘very pragmatic and detail-oriented’ Donald Gray, Darwin Gray LLP’s four-strong team provides a ‘knowledgeable and responsive’ service, particularly in relation to development work. Gray recently advised Wellington House (Developments) on the development of a mixed-use scheme involving ground floor retail, one-floor offices and 44 residential apartments. Other highlights included advising the developer of Box City in Cardiff Bay, which on completion will be the largest development so far attempted using shipping containers. Senior associate Gareth Wedge has particular expertise in commercial landlord and tenant matters, as well as on transactions involving veterinary practices. Other clients include ABA Holdings, Cyncoed Property and GM2.

Boutique property firm Le Gros Solicitors Limited is praised for its ‘savvy and client-centric approach’ across commercial and residential property transactions. Recent highlights include advising developer Nextcolour on the prestigious waterfront redevelopment of the Tivoli Building Mumbles in Swansea. In an illustration of its workload beyond south Wales, the team advised West Sussex County Council as a landowner of part of the development site in relation to the Littlehampton development. Key figures include Claudia Le Gros, who is a ‘great figurehead and leader’ and the ‘outstanding’ Nicola Beynon. Clients include Acorn Property Group, Bexmoor and Portabella.

Howells Solicitors acts for its impressive roster of private clients on high-end residential conveyancing work, and also handles standalone commercial property matters. Rhidian Hobbs leads on the commercial property front and has expertise across a range of matters including landlord and tenant, owner-occupier work, development and business transfers.

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Legal Developments in Wales for Commercial property: Cardiff

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 


    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

    - Falcon Chambers

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