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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 > West Midlands > Real estate > Planning > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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DLA Piper UK LLP handles heavyweight work including the planning aspects of major residential developments and national infrastructure projects. Trevor Ivory has ‘extensive planning experience and very good judgement’ – he and senior associate Amy Truman successfully represented West Midlands Pension Fund in an appeal against the refusal of permission for a thousand-home urban extension near Redcar. In addition, Ivory was instructed by Hopkins Homes in 2017 Supreme Court case Hopkins Homes v Suffolk Coastal District Council concerning the implementation of the National Planning Policy Framework’s “tilted balance” provision in favour of development in the absence of an up-to-date sustainable development plan. Howard Bassford (who relocated from London to the Birmingham office and is ‘enthusiastic and knowledgeable – great to have on your side’) is advising the Department for Transport on drafting its proposed National Policy Statement for further airport capacity in the South East, and also continues to assists National Grid with the planning aspects of constructing a partially-underwater 200km power line to connect with the planned Moorside nuclear power station. HS2 Limited is a cornerstone client.

Gowling WLG is a ‘highly motivated and well-run practice in which clients have a great deal of trust and faith’. Andrew Thomas (‘a great strategist’) and director Toni Weston continue to advise Goodman Real Estate on securing a development consent order for a real freight interchange near Derby – the pair also advised the North Whiteley Consortium (which includes Taylor Wimpey and Bovis) on a planning application for 3,500 new homes near Winchester. Directors Graham Wrigglesworth (‘excellent for detail’) and Thomas are advising the London Borough of Barnet on planning aspects of the Brent Cross Cricklewood scheme. Other clients include Copeland Borough Council, which it advises on planning issues concerning nuclear decommissioning and proposals for a geological disposal facility. Cairo Nickolls is a key senior associate. Vicky Fowler is now based in the firm’s Dubai office.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP handles work concerning infrastructure developments and housebuilding schemes. Paul Maile and senior associate Duncan Williams continue to advise Taylor Wimpey on a development in Stafford, and are advising IM Properties on several planned developments. On the infrastructure front the team is advising DB Symmetry on developing a new rail freight interchange near Hinckley. Other work includes advice to local authorities – the team advised Cherwell District Council on drafting section 106 agreements concerning the North West Bicester Eco Town development. Energy clients include RWE Generation, which Maile continues to advise on its application for consent for a 2.5GW gas-fired power station near the proposed Tilbury 2 port, and Community Wind Power.

Shoosmiths LLP ‘combines personal service and insightful advice’. The firm handles works concerning both residential and non-residential developments, some of which for local authorities. The ‘experienced and friendlyTim Willis has ‘excellent negotiation and drafting skills’- he and the ‘efficient and knowledgable’ Anna Cartledge (who was promoted to partner in May 2018) continue to advise IM Properties on a planned development in the Blythe Valley Park in Solihull, which will necessitate the use of green belt land. In the non-residential space, the pair advise Safestore on proposals to develop several warehouses. Other clients include Maximus Strategic Stafford, which the pair advise on a proposed 3,000 home extension to Stafford, and Hart District Council, which the practice advises on a matters relating to proposed changes to a Grade 1 listed building. The Duchy of Lancaster is another client.

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP ‘offers professional and robust advice in this sector - it is particularly adept at ensuring every avenue is fully explored before deciding on what strategy is best for the client’. Niall Blackie is a key contact in the practice, with Suzanne Tucker a key associate. Highlights in 2017 include advising on housebuilding matters, including affordable housing issues and section 106 agreements.

Pinsent Masons LLP's Birmingham office has ‘a highly professional team with strategic vision, detailed technical knowledge, and a clear problem-solving approach’. Heidi Slater, who was promoted to legal director in 2017, is a ‘superbly efficient and hard-working team player with an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of both planning and infrastructure work’ – she worked with the London office on advising Suffolk County Council on two projects designated as “nationally important” under the Planning Act 2008. Slater also advised the London Borough of Brent on the planned regeneration of the South Kilburn Estate. Rebecca Warren left in November 2017 to become planning director of Crest Nicholson.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP, which represents a strong roster of local authorities and public sector clients, ‘devotes real attention to its clients and cases’. Simon Stanion (‘he has excellent tactical judgement and a great client manner’) acted alongside legal director Leenamari Aantaa-Collier for several NHS trusts on securing contributions from developers through the planning process. Legal director Ian Graves acts for a number of individual planning objectors, including successfully representing a private individual who saught a re-consultation following amendments to an application. Louise Portman (also a legal director) is rated for her ‘impressive knowledge of enforcement and knowledge of the best actions to resist notices’.

Zyda Law in Stratford upon Avon is a boutique firm with a track record in the planning elements of energy and infrastructure developments. Paul Zyda is the key contact at the firm.

Ansons in Lichfield handles work for both local authorities and housebuilders, as well as planning prosecution matters. David Anderton acted for Lichfield Distric Council, seeking a planning enforcement order against the builders of a cottage. Neil Faunch, a senior associate is also a key contact in the firm – his practice includes various section 106 agreements.

At Beswicks Legal in Stoke on Trent, consultant Ian Johnston handles a range of planning and compulsory purchase matters, many of which concerning HS2. The firm also handles transactional property matters, as well as blight claims and representation of individuals subjected to planning enforcement actions.

At Gateley Plc, senior associate Matthew Scudamore  handles a range of work regarding planning consents, much of which concerning section 106 agreements. He advised a consortium of Keepmoat Homes and Strata Homes on section 111 and 106 agreements concerning construction on a brownfield site in central Leeds. Other clients include UK Land Developments, which Scudamore advised on agreements concerning a development in Redditch, David Wilson Homes and Harworth Estates.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys is a ‘truly responsive team capable of distilling the fast evolving planning landscape into intelligent advice’. Rosalind Andrews, a ‘very responsive’ new partner promotion in Worcester, represented Piffs Elm Limited in an application to the Court of Appeal as part of a judicial review of a remedy issued after a decision made by Tewkesbury Borough Council was found to be biased. Andrews also represented Access Homes in litigation, securing the quashing of a tree preservation order. Other work concerns enforcement litigation and section 106 agreements. The firm also acts for Malvern Hills District Council and the Policing and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire.

Knights plc in Newcastle under Lyme includes several lawyers with planning expertise. Ben Weatherley and Carl Copestake are both qualified as chartered town planners. Andrea Bruce, who has expertise in minerals matters, and Rob Pattinson are also key contacts.

In Telford, Lanyon Bowdler’s David Brammer handles a range of work for landowners and private developers. Highlights include representing a farmer in a judicial review to a council decision to approve residential conversion for one barn but not a neighbouring one. Other mandates concern section 106 agreements, requisitions for information and enforcement appeals. The firm also advised Hydro Electric Development on securing approval for a hydroelectric project in Carmarthenshire.

Wright Hassall LLP’s team is headed by senior associate John Gregory, who joined the firm from an in-house role at Warwickshire County Council. He took a part in a multi-disciplinary team from the firm advising Hayden Homes on a planned 21 home development necessitating a section 106 agreement, and also advises developers such as AC Lloyd and Two Rivers Development. Compulsory purchases are also an area of expertise. Pritpal Singh-Swarn is now at Spearing Waite LLP in Leicester.

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