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  1. Commercial property: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire
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Addleshaw Goddard’s ‘excellent level of service, outstanding knowledge and responsive approach’ places it ‘head and shoulders above most of the firms in the space’. The ‘unbelievably helpful’ Bruce Lightbody, leads the practice, which includes Lucy Sturrock, who ‘really makes an effort to understand her clients’ business from a commercial and legal perspective’ and regularly acts for retail and leisure sector clients; Ian Smith, who advises institutional investors; investment property and portfolios sales expert Andrew Williamson; and development funding specialist Anna Heaton. In a recent highlight, Lightbody advised Leeds Beckett University on the procurement and development funding agreement relating to the acquisition of a site adjacent to the University’s city centre campus for a new performing arts building. Further mandates for the department include recently promoted partner and energy sector specialist Peter Mason assisting Hull Eco Park with the development of an energy business park, legal director Lesley Reeves acting on the disposal of four retails parks to Edison Property Investment Company for Stadium Group, and Sturrock and Williamson handling over 40 acquisitions and developments for Travelodge Hotels.

DLA Piper UK LLP’s advice covers regional, national and international mandates across transactional work and real estate investment issues with experience in the retail, financial services, manufacturing, transport and energy sectors. Highlights included advising Ocean Network Express (a new joint venture between NYK Group, K-Line and Mitsui OSK Lines) on the establishment of 49 new offices in multiple jurisdictions, acting for the Royal Bank of Scotland on its disposal of Premier Place and assisting Uber with all its real estate issues across the EMEA region. Tim Field heads the department, which includes renewable energy project specialist Andrew Clarke, Mark Lynch, who focuses on property portfolio work; and legal directors Ruth Williamson and Stacey Brook who handle asset management work and retail sector work respectively. Asda and JD Sports Fashion are also clients; Clarke is assisting the latter with land sales and with obtaining the funding for the extension of its European distribution centre in Rochdale. Valerie Mather retired.

Clients praise the ‘highly impressive’ team at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, which ‘stands out for the dedication, care and respect it shows clients’ and its ‘ability to manage difficult and challenging circumstances with calmness, poise and brilliant expertise’. The practice, led by George Bacon, is recognised for its investment, development and real estate finance expertise and knowledge of the hospitality, leisure, retail and education sectors. Susan Samuel leads the firm’s hospitality and leisure group globally; she ‘is an extension to the clients’ teams and fits perfectly within their culture’. Samuel’s recent highlights include acting for Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) on the refranchising of 200 UK stores, while Bacon’s recent work includes advising the Government Property Agency on the letting of a new hub office for the HMRC in Leeds and handling Meyer Bergman’s pre-let of an office building to The Office Group. The team also advised Yorkshire County Cricket Club on the financing of the North stand at Headingly Stadium and assisting Legal & General with its investment in Newcastle Science Central, a new science park for the University of Newcastle. Other noteworthy team members include real estate investment specialist Stephen Felstead, Sue Buckworth, who focuses on international mandates; and principal associate Simon Harris, who advises institutional investors.

Walker Morris LLP’s ‘class-leading’ practice provides ‘responsive and coherent advice, which is well thought out with an excellent grasp of the optionality of any given situation’. Practice head Nick Cannon is ‘excellent’, Austin Judson is ‘hugely client and solution focused and is able to see through the white noise of complex situations to find the best solution’, and Jeremy Moore is ‘easy to trust implicitly’. Jacqueline Judson and senior associate Adam Reed are also key names to note. In a recent highlight, Jane Weaver led advice to Polish retailer LPP Reserve, a new client, on its lease for a new flagship store on Oxford Street. Further work includes Judith Pike and construction lawyer Julian Harbage acting for FCC Environment UK on the land and construction elements of HS2’s acquisition of a railway siding and Moore assisting Pharmaron UK with its purchase and leaseback of Merck Sharp & Dohme’s facilities in Hertfordshire. Asda, the Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment and HSBC are also clients.

Notable areas of strength for DWF’s practice include development work, private rented sector (PRS) schemes and investment issues. Highlights included acting for Leeds Cricket Football and Athletic Company on the redevelopment of the South and North-South stands at Headingley Stadium, advising Custodian REIT on multiple investment acquisitions and disposals totalling £75m and assisting Sterling Capitol with its sale £18m sale of Capitol Park West to Squarestone. Moda Living and Moorfield group are also clients; the group advised the latter on the raising of finance against four of its PRS and student accommodation developments. Key names in the ‘brilliant’ team include practice head Andrew Flounders, Nic Crocker, who stands out for his car park expertise; development specialist Jim Speed and director Guy Rusling who joined from Womble Bond Dickinson in 2017. -Simon Meek joined Shoosmiths LLP.

Planning specialist Jonathan Riley leads the ‘pragmatic, commercial and knowledgeable’ team in Pinsent Masons LLP’s Leeds office following Jonathan Brocklehurst’s move to its Manchester base. Riley regularly handles housing and infrastructure projects, while Victoria Goddard is the key name for development work particularly in the education sector; Andrew Quinlan handles property investment and development work, Anne Bowden focuses on housing regeneration projects, Richard Daffern is an expert in real estate investments and James Long specialises in private healthcare investment mandates. Clients include Aviva Investors, Octopus Healthcare and L&G Capital. The team also advised AXA on its purchase of Retirement Village Group, assisted Grainger Land & Regeneration with the forward purchase of a build-to-rent development in Leeds and acted for the University of Sussex on its procurement of student accommodation buildings.

Shulmans LLP's department provides ‘excellent service levels’. The practice is led by Simon Jackson on the commercial property side, while Rosemary Edwards heads the residential development practice; Edwards’ recent mandates include assisting Avant Homes with land acquisitions, while Jackson recently led advice to Crown Properties and Governside on the management, lettings and renewals for several retail, office and leisure properties in London. Further highlights include property finance expert Edwina Hewson assisting TCS Holdings with various portfolio management issues and consultant Andrew Latchmore and Dawn Carlisle acting for S Harrison Developments on its acquisition of a student accommodation development site. Evans Property Group, Barratt Homes and Princes Quay Estates are also clients. Associate Kieran Wilkinson is also a key name to note  Julie Carr joined the residential development team in 2018 from Brady Solicitors .

Recent highlights for Squire Patton Boggs’ ‘exceptional’ department include advising Zenith Vehicle Contract Group on the lease for a new headquarters in a new development in Leeds, assisting Muse Developments with the £200m regeneration of the Civic and Cultural Quarter in Doncaster and acting for Leeds City Council on the South Bank Regeneration Project. In the team, practice head Matthew Dalzell !Leeds is a key name in the region for student accommodation-related work, Prew Lumley !Leeds handles development work and regularly advises corporate occupiers, Karen French !Leeds is recognised for her manufacturing and higher education expertise, Andrew Sprake !Leeds focuses on real estate finance mandates and public sector regeneration schemes, John Leake !Leeds specialises in development work and David Chan !Leeds was promoted to the partnership in 2017.

Womble Bond Dickinson stands out for its work for a wide range of public and private sector clients on redevelopment and regeneration projects, in addition to handling mixed-use developments, retail developments, landlord and tenant work, and investment sales and purchases. Mark Owen leads the department, which also fields Paula Dillon , residential development expert Julia Dacre Field  and managing associate,  Adam Wilkinson who focuses on the retail sector. Highlights for the practice included advising Leeds City Council on the Victoria Gate development, assisting Commercial Estates Group with the land assembly of a site outside Newcastle and handling the regeneration of the Fruit Market in Hull for Wykeland Beal. St James Securities, Taylor Wimpey and Caddick Developments are also clients.

Martin Grange leads the department at Clarion, which provides ‘truly excellent and valuable advice with a great commercial perspective’ thanks to ‘a solution-focused team, which always puts the clients first’. The practice is highly regarded for its development expertise, particularly in residential developments; clients include Harron Homes, Persimmon Homes and Strata Homes. Other noteworthy areas of strength include the retail and leisure sectors, corporate occupier clients and real estate finance work. In a recent highlight, Lindsay Texel, who has ‘an excellent eye for detail paired with an approachable and pragmatic style’, advised Newby on the sale of the Cocoa Works in York to Clarion Housing for redevelopment into residential properties, and acted for Asics on the grant of a 10 year lease for a new flagship store on Regent Street. Clients also praise Ben Lamb, who is ‘a dedicated and thorough lawyer who has a brilliant work ethic’; he recently assisted Bosideng UK with its acquisition and redevelopment of a property in Central London and the subsequent letting to third party operators. ‘Unbelievably proactive’ legal director Alison Batty is also recommended and legal director Eve Gregory joined from DAC Beachcroft LLP.

Gateley Plc splits its development expertise into two distinct areas:  residential development work for housebuilders, and advising developers on retail and mixed-use development schemes. George Parker-Fuller and Philip Gregory are the key names for each area respectively; Parker-Fuller’s recent work includes advising Bellway Homes on the acquisition of land at East Halewood for a residential development, while Gregory assisted Headrow with its acquisition of a multi-let office block in Leeds city centre. Further highlights include handling the investment sale of a Manchester office building to F&C UK Property Fund for The Wakefield Property Partnership, advising Peveril Securities on the acquisition, letting and development of Costa Coffee drive throughs, and assisting Miller Homes with the development of a residential site in Wakefield.

Gordons LLP is ‘a force to be reckoned with’ when advising retail clients; examples include Heron Foods, Pavers Shoes and Safestyle UK. B&M Retail is also a key client; the group recently advised it on its acquisition of Heron Foods and handled its lease renewals and property management work. Joanne Fearnley is the key name for retailers; other noteworthy individuals include practice head Paul Young, who focuses on developments; Nick Chamberlain, secured lending specialist Simon Mydlowski, Michael Finett, who is noted for his residential development knowledge; and Sarah Ratcliffe.

Irwin Mitchell’s ‘professional, reliable and focused’ practice is led by the ‘technically excellent’ John Flathers, who has substantial expertise in development work, property finance matters and advising corporate occupiers. Flathers recently advised Thyssen Krupp UK on the sale of a former factory for redevelopment and assisted Craig & Rose with the negotiation of a new lease of a London property. Clients also single out ‘commercial, diligent and personable’ development expert James Knowles, who recently acted for Henry Boot Developments on its bid to develop the International Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sunderland, advised Clugston Estates on its purchase of a Manchester property through an SPV, and led advice to Gravity Fitness on the expansion of its trampoline park business including handling premises acquisitions and investment issues. Caddick Developments, Jones Lang LaSalle and Rula Developments are also clients.

David Whitaker leads the group at Lupton Fawcett and is highly regarded for his experience in acquisitions and disposals, investment property portfolios and charity clients. Other noteworthy practitioners include Jonathan Moore, who handles development transactions; and consultant David Coleman, who ‘offers fair and pragmatic advice with industry knowledge that is second to none’ and is noted for his expertise in property acquisitions, joint ventures and leasing issues. Highlights included assisting Belgrave with the sale of its let industrial properties portfolio to a Jersey-based investment company, advising Grangers International on its acquisition and funding of land for a new manufacturing store and distribution facility, and acting for Redhall Group on the disposal of its industrial buildings complex in Newcastle.

Schofield Sweeney’s ‘fantastic’ department is noted for having ‘the knowledge of the market and commercial ability to get the deal done’. Darren Birkinshaw heads the team, which handles residential developments, property finance transactions and stamp duty land tax work, and assists clients in the education, healthcare, renewables, retail and leisure sectors. Richard Innes is the key name for retail clients, Dean Jowett (who ‘delivers every time’) handles residential developments, Rob Hayes focuses on the health and transport sectors, and recently promoted partner Manjit Virdee is ‘extremely diligent’ and leads the property finance team. In a recent highlight, Jowett acted for Persimmon Homes on the purchase of a former hospital site for demolition and a residential development; Jowett also advised Alumasc Group on a new lease for a new manufacturing and warehousing facility in Goole, and Hayes assisted Shearings Leisure Group with the relocation of its corporate headquarters. Santander, the Trafford Centre and Yesss Electrical are also clients.

Recent highlights for Ward Hadaway’s ‘brilliant’ department include advising the Land Trust on a collaboration agreement and a property structure for a site in Leicester, assisting the Canal & River Trust with a bridge crossing agreement and sewer agreement for the Branston Lock development, and acting for a Welsh university on its adoption of the German incubator model. Further clients include Allied London, Barratt Homes, Lloyds Bank, The Scotfield Group and Frozen Value. Department head Kevin Weston is recommended for transactions involving property joint ventures and landowner collaborations, Jonathan Dickson acts for landowners, investors and charities on landlord and tenant work, acquisitions, disposals and portfolio management issues; and Andrew Pliener focuses on residential development work. David Pridmore and Simon Hellewell are also names to note.

Deborah Powell heads Bevan Brittan LLP’s practice, which also counts healthcare property team head James Atkins, social housing specialist Julie Cowan-Clark and Lyndon Campbell, who focuses on residential property developments and property finance mandates, as key practitioners. The team handles sales and leaseback schemes, disposals, acquisitions, developments, planning issues, joint ventures and commercial lease work; a recent highlight involved assisting Hornbeam Park Developments with the purchase of Victoria Park House in Harrogate with plans to construct an office building on the land. Brunswick Court Development, Bentley Homes, Cross Green Developments and A Shade Greener are also clients.

Blacks Solicitors LLP ‘approaches transactions with a commercial viewpoint and a highly pragmatic and professional level of service’ that ‘allows it to give clients real world and realistically sound advice no matter the complexity of the matter’. Team head Nicholas Dyson is ‘always available’, development specialist Ian Errington is ‘excellent at dealing with clients’, Matthew Hutchinson has ‘strong communication skills and is very level headed’, and senior associate Anushka Nicholas is ‘extremely knowledgeable and fights the client’s corner at all times’. Recent highlights include advising on energy-related refinancing issues, assisting with property acquisitions and restructuring leases.

At DAC Beachcroft LLP, practice head Clare Hartley focuses on the telecoms sector; her recent work includes advising Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure on its acquisition of new telecommunication sites to improve 4G coverage and assisting the same client with the surrender and re-grant of 200 leases of telecommunication cell sites nationally. The group also advises telecoms clients on site sharing agreements, leases for new masts and renewal leases. Further clients for the firm include Leeds City Council, Land Securities and Telefonica UK. Consultant Lesley Hughes is recommended for contentious matters. -Eve Gregory  joined Clarion in 2018.

Langleys Solicitors LLP ‘impresses across the board’ under the leadership of Tim Cross, who ‘knows his subject inside out and consistently gets the job done’. Cross and Emma Warner are recommended for their landlord and tenant expertise; Warner is also noted for her property finance and freehold disposal and acquisition experience while Cross handles developments, investment work and retail clients. Highlights included advising Barmston Developments on a development agreement for lease at Turbine Business Park in Sunderland, assisting In-Site Property Solutions with the sale of units in a business park, and acting for Handlesbanken on a ten year lease for offices in York. The team also gained multiple new clients; Paynes Dairies, The York Roast Co and H Bauer Publishing are examples.

The ‘responsive, knowledgeable and client-focused’ department at Mills & Reeve LLP handles an array of mandates including investment transactions, development projects, landlord and tenant portfolio management, and rent work; it also assists clients in the education, healthcare, agriculture, charity and energy sectors. The ‘technically brilliant’ Simon Sherwood  {Simon Sherwood 3936} is the key name in the Leeds office; he acted for Consolidated Property Group on the lettings of a new retail park developments in Newquay and St Albans, assisted Harmony Bridge with the acquisition and finance of the Civic Center in Nottingham, and advised General Practice Investment Corporation on multiple site assemblies and primary care centre development schemes. Clients also single out development-focused principal associate Andrea Newman, who relocated from the firm’s Cambridge office and ‘easily adapts to the client’s business style’; and principal associate Juliette Fisher, who handles real estate investment work, primary healthcare development projects and residential portfolio work.

With ‘an experienced practice of well-qualified individuals’, Raworths ‘provides a prompt and efficient service that focuses solely on the client’s needs’. Department head Alasdair Inglis advises on residential and commercial developments, the ‘knowledgeable’ Andrew Lawson acts on site acquisitions, lease agreements and investment sales for local developers; and Sally Robinson leads the residential property department. Janice Dale is the key contact for the trustees of Rockspring Hanover Property Trust, which she advised on lease agreement issues; Dale is also the main contact for social housing work. Yorkshire Bank, Quarters Developments and National Westminster Bank are also clients.

Simon Meek joined from DWF to lead Shoosmiths LLP’s newly established Leeds team, which saw significant recruitment from firms across the market. Development and investment specialist Judy Fawcett joined from Ward Hadaway, development-focused Thomas Hall and Kellie Hatton joined from Irwin Mitchell, Michael Whitworth, who focuses on residential work, and Edell Asquez arrived from DWF . Recent highlights for the new department include advising Highwood Group on its acquisition of a site for a residential mixed-use development, handling the acquisition of a motorway service area for Extra MSA Group, and acting for Cinnamon Group on the acquisition and development of multiple care home and retirement scheme sites. Strata Homes, Allied London, Sports Direct and Park Lane Properties are also clients.

At Weightmans, James Sargent is recognised for his development expertise alongside his experience in investment work, site acquisitions and disposals, and landlord and tenant matters. The highly regarded Mark Crabtree focuses on the licence and leisure industry; Punch Taverns is one of his clients. The team acts for investors and developers with particular experience acting for overseas investors buying properties for development or conversion into residential apartments and student accommodation, and also advises on residential conveyancing issues.

Berwins’ department has notable expertise in development transactions and agriculture-related mandates; clients include Commercial Development Projects, Pearl Northern Developments and Folk2Folk. Senior associate Jennifer Kirkhope leads the practice and specialises in advising commercial developers and landlords. Other noteworthy names include senior associate Allan Stewart, director and head of the residential property team Jo Randall and senior consultant Richard Wheeldon.

Capsticks LLP stands out for its healthcare-sector expertise, where it represents multiple NHS trusts, GP practices, private healthcare providers and community health partnerships. In a recent highlight, team head Lisa Geary, who has ‘a wealth of knowledge and is able to deal with complex issues’, advised Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust on the sale of an area of vacant land that was a former mental health hospital, acted for Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust on the transferral of properties owned or leased by the trust for the provision of community services, and assisting iGene London with the development of a Centre of Excellence for the provision of digital autopsy services. Clients also single out senior solicitor Emma Brecknock, who is ‘highly intelligent and articulate and manages to successfully balance all elements of the issues her clients face’.

At Freeths LLP, Liz Banks has ‘a reliable and friendly approach’ that allows for ‘a great level of service that sets the firm apart’. Banks and Matthew Thompson jointly lead the department, which provides the full range of commercial property advice including property management work, development issues, sales and acquisitions, and investment matters. Banks’ recent work includes advising Leeds City Council on its disposal of various brownfield sites, assisting Travis Perkins with portfolio management work, and acting for Wickes Building Supplies on refurbishment issues; while Thompson handled the development and letting of a retail and leisure scheme for Opus Land, and advised Gregory Projects on the purchase, development and sale of a site. Eshton Developments, Glentrool Estates Group and Marsdens Developments are also clients.

The ‘incredibly knowledgeable’ team at Harrowells Solicitors advises clients across four strands of work: residential housing developments, purchases and sales for regional businesses, commercial landlord and tenant work, and agriculture-related transactions. Stephen Proctor leads the team, which also counts Martin Thorpe, whose ‘attention to detail is second to none’; and ‘excellent communicator’ Matthew Hayward as key practitioners.

LCF Law has ‘deep roots and excellent resources across the board’ with ‘the ability to quickly resolve issues, no matter how complex’. Clients single out practice head Paul Anderson, who focuses on commercial and residential development schemes, David Jameson, Lynne Webster, Tim Axe, Simon Mordey, Ann-Marie Casey and Harriet Thornton. Areas of expertise for the ‘brilliant’ department include advising investment companies, charities and healthcare clients with knowledge of leasehold enfranchisements.

Heather Roberts heads the department at McCormicks  and is noted for her retail expertise, commercial lettings work, site acquisitions and developments, and landlord and tenant matters. Highlights included acting for Yorkshire Agricultural Society on a development agreement for a new aparthotel, assisting Leeds United FC with property issues relating to its stadium and training ground, and acting for the Premier League on matters surrounding the redevelopment of its London headquarters.

At Metis Law LLP  Leeds, team head Richard Longton  handles transactional mandates, real estate finance issues and development finance work. His recent work includes assisting Northern Powerhouse Developments with multiple hotel acquisitions, advising Afan Valley on a development in South Wales which will include a hotel, residential units, lodges and leisure facilities; and acting for Bradford Real Estate Group on multiple transactions including the purchase of an ice rink and bingo hall and the conversion of an office building to residential apartments. Other key names include legal directors Andrew Marshall  and Mark Beedel; Marshall has niche strength in the charity and trust sectors and Beedel focuses on conveyancing work and issues in the microbrewery sector.

Ramsdens fields a team of ‘highly responsive individuals’ led by the ‘superb’ Greg Dolan, who acts for developers, investors and companies with property portfolios. The group also includes Simon Mills, who specialises in site acquisitions and developments, commercial leases and secured lending; managing partner Paul Joyce, Julia Lees and Kate Donaldson.

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