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Who Represents Who

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Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP’s substantial practice ‘has a real history and feel for the social housing area, and understands the needs and pressures inherent therein’. As a result, the team is something of a thought leader in the sector, and head of practice Jonathan Cox continued to advise Riverside Housing Group on the voluntary Right to Buy pilot initiated by the government in January 2016. One particular area of expertise is corporate work, where recent highlights included Victoria Jardine acting for Trafford Housing Trust in its £160m joint venture with London & Quadrant for the development of new housing in the North West, and newly promoted partner Gemma Bell advising Thirteen Housing Group on its proposed consolidation. Senior partner Peter Hubbard, who heads the practice with Cox, focuses on major projects as well as constitutional, governance and regulatory issues, and recently assisted Southway Housing Trust with a suitable corporate and governance structure that would reflect its new commercial activities. In the housing litigation space, Helen Tucker and Baljit Basra ‘provide clients with prompt, reliable and practical advice in the most complex matters’; and Andrew Milross is a key figure for construction and procurement work.

Gowling WLG impresses with its ‘excellent business acumen and industry knowledge’, and the team continued to handle high-value projects not only for registered providers, but also for local authorities, residential developers, and major pension funds investing in the sector. In the regeneration space, Richard Beckingsale is acting for the London Borough of Barnet in the £4bn regeneration of Brent Cross, Cricklewood, while in the affordable housing development sphere, director Sally Farrall is advising Croydon Council on the delivery of new homes by its subsidiary, Brick by Brick. Head of practice Jacqueline Knox specialises in development and investment and (non-contentious) housing management, and is advising key client Sanctuary Housing Group on a number of mandates, including its acquisition of the former Bullwood Hall prison site from Harrow Estates. Another name to note is Sarah Sasse, who is ‘extremely knowledgeable on ICT procurement and Public Contracts Regulations’; Sasse advised Bromford Housing on its procurement of a partner to provide enterprise solutions and transformation partner services via a competitive dialogue process.

At Shakespeare Martineau LLP, areas of expertise include acquisition and development, sales, housing and leasehold management and securitisation. Louise Drew heads the team and focuses on property acquisition and disposals for registered providers, extra care retirement villages and specialist tenure leasehold schemes; her recent work includes acting for ExtraCare Charitable Trust in the sale of 210 shared ownership and outright sale units at a new extra care retirement village in Coventry, and assisting Aspire Housing with the auction sale of properties considered unsuitable for renovation. Paul Huggins was also highly active, with key mandates including advising WM Housing on the acquisition of new office premises, and representing Bromford Housing Association in its purchase of 29 units under a Golden Brick development agreement. Other names to note are Emma Gamble, who specialises in fully mutual housing associations, leasehold schemes for the elderly and asset disposals; and Birmingham-based Vicki Simpson, who leads on securitisation work for registered providers. The team lost Samantha Orluta and Andrew Dudley to Bond Dickinson LLP and Wright Hassall LLP respectively. All named partners are based in Stratford upon Avon, unless otherwise stated.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP continued to be busy on a number of high-value property mandates, with the team advising registered providers on regeneration projects, mixed-use development schemes, and the acquisition and leasing of property. Practice head Jeremy Hunt, who divides his time between Birmingham and London, acted for Mount Green Housing Association in the tenanted exchange of 105 homes on the Crescent Estate in Bexley to Hyde Housing Association for 206 homes in Runnymede, Surrey Heath, Epsom and Ewell, and other areas. In another example of property work, senior associate Simon Robinson, who ‘has a very good understanding of various types of land acquisition contracts’, advised Rooftop Housing Group on the acquisition of several strategic development sites across Worcestershire. In the housing management space, Yetunde Dania handles both non-contentious and contentious mandates and ‘provides a very professional and reliable service, with a willingness to take time to discuss and consider case prospects’. The practice was enhanced by the hire of public sector development and regeneration specialist Christopher Plumley from Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP.

Wright Hassall LLP witnessed some change at the top, with the hire of Andrew Dudley from Shakespeare Martineau LLP, who replaced consultant Carol Matthews as head of practice; Matthews remains a key figure, especially in relation to charging and securitisation. Dudley has particular expertise in acting for registered providers on development acquisitions, stock rationalisations and regeneration projects, and in one example of work, he assisted Whitefriars Housing Group with its acquisition of 58 properties from Keepmoat Homes at Spirit Quarters in Coventry. Another important player on the property side is Claire Waring, who ‘impresses with her level of understanding of the affordable housing sector’. Mary Rouse leads on housing management work and is ‘very knowledgeable, both in litigation and advisory matters’; Rouse continued to be busy for clients such as Orbit Group and Aragon Housing Association, and in one highlight secured an injunction and exclusion order against a violent tenant. Longhurst Group, Housing 21 and Sovereign Housing group are also clients of the practice.

Pinsent Masons LLP continued to enjoy the lion’s share of instructions from the Homes and Communities Agency, with department head David Meecham advising on a wide variety of matters, including the procurement of an accelerated construction development partner for the delivery of housing at Daedalus Waterfront, and a collaboration with North Somerset District Council for a large-scale residential and/or mixed-use scheme in Weston super Mare. Meecham also regularly acts for county councils on social housing schemes and wins praise for his ‘good practical commercial advice, whilst recognising the council’s position as a landlord’. The team is also noted as being ‘one of the most user-friendly firms covering investors in the social housing sector’, and both Stephen Brown and Edward Sunderland continued to be busy in the finance space: Brown advised Santander on a private placement by Greenfields Community Housing relating to the construction of 850 new affordable homes in the Braintree area, and Sunderland assisted ExtraCare Trust with its recent fundraising to assist it in its development of retirement villages.

At Shoosmiths LLP, senior associate David Perry specialises in development and real estate finance and is advising Derwent Housing Association on all aspects of a major photovoltaic lease project for a 1,500-roof portfolio. Perry is also acting for Longhurst Group on several governance queries concerning a stock charging exercise. In the housing management space, associate Bukola Aremu handles a range of issues, including anti-social behaviour, eviction and possession proceedings, tenancy and succession issues; Aremu is assisting practice head Bhavesh Amlani with advice to Severn Vale Housing Society on preserved right-to-buy and right-to-acquire work. Amlani focuses on development and investment work for registered providers. The team secured a number of new clients in 2016, including CHIC and Regenda Group.

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Legal Developments in West Midlands for Social housing

  • 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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