Commercial property: Cambridge in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP further added to the depth of its Cambridge commercial property team in 2022 with the hire of Simon Keen from Hogan Lovells International LLP, who has become the firm’s main public sector property partner, and is highly experienced in the acquisition, promotion and disposal of strategic land. The practice is led by strategic land expert Kath Herbert, who recently worked with up-and-coming partner Dwight Patten to advise local landowners on the disposal of a £33m plot in the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. 'The all round expertise on commercial property matters is exceptional‘, remarked a client. Claudia Haisman-Green and newly promoted partner Helen Stewart also handle complex strategic land and development matters for landowners and developers. Gavin Acheson and Gemma Goddard lead the real estate investment team. Jeremy Stanton is a key adviser on clean energy projects.

Practice head(s):

Katherine (Kath) Herbert

Other key lawyers:

Simon Keen; Dwight Patten; Gavin Acheson; Gemma Goddard; Claudia Haisman-Green; Jeremy Stanton; Helen Stewart


‘The all round expertise on commercial property matters is exceptional, comparing very favourably to other regional firm’s capabilities.’

‘Simon Keen leads the team with exceptional commercial and legal expertise that would not go unnoticed in a larger London firm.’

‘The team is incredibly responsive which sets it apart from the competition. The advice is precise, well structured and always pragmatic but it’s the round the client service which sets it apart.’

‘Simon Keen – he has ability to problem solve and progress transaction at pace is first class. He also has a great memory for detail which enables him to provide quick and reliable advice whenever it’s needed.’

‘The commercial property team that we have dealt with are both strong on law and the commercial practicalities.’

‘Dwight Patten is the partner we have dealt with. Dwight is responsive and customer focused. He has great domain knowledge and often raises ideas and challenges that help us get to a better commercial solution.’

‘The team are keen to build a relationship and to understand our business needs in order to provide a service that is suited to us. No other law firm has taken such an interest in our business affairs and this sets Birketts apart from other.’

‘Both myself and the managing director were impressed with Gemma Goddard’s manner and ability to explain legal and commercial concepts relating to an energy option and lease in all parties meeting leaving the other lawyer high and dry by her knowledge and understanding.’

Key clients

Trust for London

London Diocesan Fund

Church Commissioners for England

News Corp

Welbeck Strategic Land

London Borough of Lewisham

Uttlesford District Council

London Borough of Newham

Caterham Cars

British Council for Offices

Anglia Ruskin University

Jesus College Oxford

Hartpury University

Cambridgeshire County Council

The Cambridge Building Society

SDI Group plc

Grovemere Property Limited

Cambridge Power Limited

Wyboston Lakes Limited

Santander UK plc

Work highlights

  • Acted for a family consortium of landowners on the disposal of the development plot known as 1000 Discovery Drive at Phase 2 of the world-renowned Cambridge Biomedical Campus by way of a 170 year lease together with a lease for the same term of infrastructure land in connection with the installation of shared roads, utilities and amenity infrastructure for this plot and the remainder of Phase 2.
  • Acted for the London Diocesan Fund in the letting of a derelict office building in London, located on top of a former graveyard, to the City of London Corporation for use as overnight accommodation for rough sleepers.
  • Advised the Church Commissioners for England on all aspects of establishing a joint venture with Hillwood and Trebor in relation to a new industrial and logistics estate at Redbrick Farm in Peterborough, including the delivery of site-wide infrastructure and the promotion, letting, development and disposal of c1.8m sq. ft. of new warehousing

HCR Hewitsons

HCR Hewitsons, which climbs the ranking this year, is a leading adviser to developers, landowners, high-tech and bio-tech sector companies, real estate investors, landlords, tenants and promoters. Practice head James Simpson, who is known for ‘exceptional quality of work and consistently high level of engagement‘, has seen the practice grow with the hire of Helen Mutucumarana from Mishcon de Reya LLP, who brings extensive experience in transactions in the life sciences, technology, biotechnology, media, retail, manufacturing, charity and engineering sectors. Ceri Riddell, who acts for acts for landowners, promoters and developers of both residential and commercial land, rounds out the strong group. Susanne Hinde departed for Howes Percival LLP in April 2023.

Practice head(s):

James Simpson

Other key lawyers:

Helen Mutucumarana; Ceri Riddell


‘James Simpson – exceptional quality of work, with excellent negotiation skills in dealing with landowners and their advisors. Consistently high level of engagement and involvement in all projects from start to finish.’

‘Dedicated to helping their clients, excellent professional advice and always go the extra mile to help. Reasonably priced.’

‘An extensive team of experienced approachable lawyers who know the law and are commercial in their approach.’

‘Straightforward common sense approach. Good at pointing out the pitfalls and advising on constructive solutions.’

Key clients

Hill Residential Ltd

Cambridge Investment Partnership

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst

Oxbridge Colleges


Wood Green Animal Shelters

The Chesterford Group

TWI Limited

Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and the Buxton Family

Swiss Laundry Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst on collaboration arrangements with a life sciences investor in connection with a circa £900 m investment into the development of a circa 1.4 m square feet Life Sciences Campus.
  • Acting for TWI Limited, a UK-based independent research and technology organisations, on the grant of a new lease to Sphere Fluidics at Granta Park.
  • Advising Cambridge Investment Partnership on a new housing development of circa 300 homes, comprising a mix of flats and houses for market sale and council rent as well as ancillary commercial space, which is being built in the heart of Cambridge.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP‘s Cambridge based practice is replete with talent, not least practice head Michaela Henson, who is regarded as one of the region’s foremost advisers on strategic land development. Jonathan Greenhalgh stands out for his expertise in complex development work, while Steven Beach is an expert in commercial property investment matters. Newly promoted partner Elizabeth Thomas focuses on the education,  commercial investment and development sectors, while ‘extremely helpful and diligent‘ senior associate Scott Smith is a key adviser to occupational clients, property developers and landowners. Clients remark upon ‘good quality all-round team that is always ready to respond to ever-changing client needs’. Susanne Hinde joined from HCR Hewitsons in April 2023.

Practice head(s):

Michaela Henson

Other key lawyers:

Steven Beach; Jonathan Greenhalgh; Elizabeth Thomas; Scott Smith; Emma Bowman; Charlotte Burmby; Susanne Hinde


‘Good dissemination between teams and then communication and coordination, so we get seamless service.’

‘Jonathan Greenhalgh is a good client coordinator and checks things, bringing his experience to promotion agreements.’

‘A good quality all-round team. Always ready to respond to our ever-changing needs and specific requirements.’

‘Commitment to problem solving.’

‘Scott Smith is extremely helpful and diligent, always willing to help us with negotiations as well as providing excellent legal advice.’

‘The team are all very experienced, responsive and professional in their approach to matters. They are able to react quickly to instructions and with their wide knowledge of real estate matters and collaborative approach to working.’

‘Both Steven Beach and Elizabeth Thomas are very approachable and responsive and go beyond normal limits to complete a task. At all points, they both keep their clients well informed on the progress of individual matters, from commencement through to completion.’

‘Susanne Hinde has been particularly outstanding. She helped us through a tricky negotiation with strategic legal advice which helped us to achieve an excellent result which all parties were happy with. She worked long hours, pulled all parties together and was highly respected by the third party legal teams for doing this.’

Key clients

University of Cambridge

Greene King PLC

Loughborough Town Properties Limited

Turnstone Estates Limited

East Cambs Trading Company Limited (trading as Palace Green Homes)

Welch’s Group Holdings Limited

Newcore Capital Management LLP

Ely Cathedral

Laragh House Developments Ltd

Luton Hoo Estate

Abcam PLC

Girton College, Cambridge

Mortar Investments PTE Limited

Camel Projects Limited

Bennetts Motorcycling Services Limited

FH Great Shelford Limited

John Huntingdon’s Charity

Artisan (UK) Developments Limited

Xaar plc

Bidwells LLP

Work highlights

  • Acted for Camel Projects (Caxton Works) Limited in the acquisition and financing of 12 commercial units in Canning Town, London for £4.25 m.
  • Acted for John Huntingdon’s Charity, in consortium with others, on a multi-million pound conditional sale of residential development land to a housebuilder.
  • Acted for FH Great Shelford Limited on the sale of its office and industrial site for a retirement living scheme.

Mills & Reeve LLP

The practice at Mills & Reeve LLP in Cambridge ‘provides City of London law firm expertise' with a strong group led by real estate investment specialist Charles Staveley an Richard Noble, who advises on projects in the not-for-profit sector. Michelle Cookson handles complex investment and development projects, while life sciences real estate adviser Vincenzo Maggio assists investors and life sciences occupiers. Christine De Ferrars Green focuses on strategic development projects, and Nick Finlayson-Brown handles investment and development work for UK and overseas clients. Providing ‘commercially astute' advice, principal associate Christopher Pike frequently assists with portfolio management. Praised by clients for being ‘exceptionally hardworking' and 'personable', principal associates Laura Ludlow and Tom Nash focus on education matters and strategic land deals respectively.

Practice head(s):

Charles Staveley

Other key lawyers:

Michelle Cookson; Vincenzo Maggio; Christine de Ferrars Green; Nick Finlayson-Brown; Richard Noble; Laura Ludlow; Christopher Pike; Tom Nash


‘The team handles a complex transaction, land purchase with differing overage provisions and tax implications, with calm efficiency. They communicated clearly on all aspects.’

‘Christopher Pike provides an excellent service. His advice is commercially astute and I feel confident that he is looking at matters from the client’s perspective.’

‘We chose M&R as they have excellent planning, property and construction teams, are predominantly based outside of London and have excellent experience working with key stakeholders such as local authorities and housebuilders. M&R provide City of London law firm expertise.’

‘They are exceptionally hardworking, personable and invest considerable time in understanding our business and helping us structure transactions and documents to meet our specific business needs. You never feel like you are getting something off the shelf.’

‘M&R are extremely knowledgeable.’

Key clients

Trinity College, Cambridge


Marshall Group

Floreat Real Estate

St John’s College, Cambridge

Peterhouse College, Cambridge

Urban&Civic Group

Henley Investment Management


Kadans Science Partner

University of Cambridge

Christ Church, Oxford

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

APML Estate Limited

Pigeon Investment Management

Work highlights

  • Advising Marshall Group on Cambridge East, a sustainable urban extension to Cambridge to deliver between 8k and 12k new homes and a complementary second city centre for Cambridge.
  • Acting for Urban & Civic on its strategic development sites at Alconbury Weald and Wintringham, St Neots. Together, these sites are set to deliver 9.3k new homes across 1825 acres of land.
  • Advising Kadans Science Partner on an acquisition and development basis on their portfolio across the Golden Triangle, including assets in Stevenage, London and Oxford.

Mishcon de Reya LLP

Described by clients as being 'thoughtful, compassionate, considerate‘, the team at Mishcon de Reya LLP handles a broad range of issues, including strategic land and energy transactions, in addition to office leasing and management. Helen Mutucumarana departed the practice in January 2023, leaving James Slinger, who is ‘extremely knowledgeable, a very prudent negotiator and problem solver', as the sole head of the practice. Newly promoted partner Elliot Wilson is ‘hardworking', primarily advising on renewable energy projects and land promotion. 'Outstanding' managing associate Keven Fehmi is adept at handling landlord and tenant matters.

Practice head(s):

James Slinger

Other key lawyers:

Elliot Wilson; Becky Woodcock; Keven Fehmi


‘Excellent knowledge of real estate matters in energy development. Great access to partners.’

‘Elliot Wilson is always quick to respond to queries and excellent at translating complicated legal matters into layman’s terms.’

‘A small and responsive team that is easy to work with. We work closely with the same people time and again.’

‘Elliot Wilson is hardworking and will go the extra mile for his client. James Slinger is extremely knowledgeable, a very prudent negotiator and problem solver.’

‘James Slinger and Keven Fehmi in particular are outstanding. I will use them for all of my property requirements for the rest of my life. Thoughtful, compassionate, and considerate.’

‘What makes the practice unique is their advice is partner led with support from their more junior members. Clients value that approach.’

‘Standout partner is James Slinger. He is incredibly commercial in his approach to transactions and advice to clients, it’s obvious there is a lot of trust and loyalty.’

Key clients

Clearstone Energy Limited

TTP Campus Limited

Elgin Energy EsCo Limited

Alphasense Limited

Babraham Research Campus Limited

Clarke & Simpson and Strutt & Parker

Garden Campus Limited


Knotel UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Elgin Energy on site-scoping, leasing, and assisted with property aspects of project financing in relation to numerous utility scale solar and storage projects across England and Wales.
  • Advising Cambridge-based Nyobolt Limited on its regional real estate expansion and leasing following its series B raise in excess of £50 m in order to develop and provide end-to-end ultrafast charging battery solutions with cutting edge technology.
  • Advised EuroEyes on the property aspects of its £30 m acquisition of laser eye surgery clinic, London Vision Clinic, including advising on a new lease of its laser eye clinic in Harley Street.

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal has a single commercial property practice across its office network in East Anglia, and the Cambridge office is home to a strong bench of partners. ‘Diplomatic, helpful and flexible‘ head of real estate Magnus McManus frequently acts for Cambridge colleges and private investors. Sheila Small focuses on residential and commercial development matters, while Charlotte Vallins ,who ‘provides expertise in a constructive manner', specialises in commercial landlord and tenant matters, advising clients on investment and operational portfolios. Senior associate Rhian Brook is an experienced adviser on landlord and tenant matters and occupied portfolios.

Practice head(s):

Magnus McManus

Other key lawyers:

Sheila Small; Charlotte Vallins; Rhian Brook


‘The team is knowledgeable and responsive, explains relevant information thoroughly.’

‘Magnus McMamus is very diplomatic, helpful and flexible with his approach. He has very good working relationships with other experts which was a great help for us as a client.’

‘Expertise combined with interpersonal skills and approachability. Able to pull down expertise from a variety of disciplines and translate into workable solutions.’

‘Charlotte Vallins. Very approachable. Provides expertise in a constructive manner aimed at providing solutions that is both astute and understandable.’

Key clients

Pembroke College (Millers Yard Trust)

WN Developments


Kevin John Peachment and Andrew John Peachment

Gates Cambridge Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising Millers Yard trust on the acquisition of a 325 year leasehold interest from the University of Cambridge at Granta Place, Mill Lane. This was the final part of the land assembled to enable Pembroke College to construct Dolby Court, a project with an overall value in excess of £20 m.
  • Advised Savills (UK) Limited on its leasehold occupied portfolio, with matters ranging from lease renewals, licences to alter and deeds of variation to new leases with associated property litigation and construction input.
  • Advising W N Developments Limited on the development of 235 houses and flats (freehold and leasehold) over a four phased completion. The firm is advising on the sale of each unit, with the houses to be sold with a flying freehold due to the underground car parking which will be constructed in this build, along with the incorporation of the two management companies.

BDB Pitmans

BDB Pitmans stands out for its ‘personable approach', handling a diverse range of matters concerning institutional investment and operational property portfolios. The practice is led by Simon Burson, who frequently advises institutional clients and occupiers. Senior associate Joe Taylor handles purchases, sales, and real estate finance, and legal director Katy Klingopulos specialises in real estate development, primarily advising on site acquisition and development funding issues. The firm manages the property portfolios of clients such as Harrods and Kurt Geiger, as well as handling institutional investment mandates for the likes of Eskmuir Properties and Munich Re.

Practice head(s):

Simon Burson

Other key lawyers:

Joe Taylor; Katy Klingopulos; Jessica Chadwick


‘The thing that makes BDB unique for us, is their personable approach and willingness to understand our industry and our needs. Their professionalism and they always deliver on their promises.’

‘Joe Taylor is always available when we need him, he also took them time to understand our industry and our requirements in regards to properties and the locations of these.’

‘A tight-knit team that works efficiently, delivering excellent results. Ready access to a large sphere of in-house expertise and willingness to adopt new tech and methodology.’

‘The team is very ably led by Simon Burson, who maintains a hands-on role, with strong day-to-day support from Jessica Chadwick and the wider team. Jess has a keen commercial eye.’

‘BDB Pitmans Cambridge offer a personalised and hands on approach to the their services. Acting nimbly to respond to all manner of requirements and advising in a commercial manner, adding value at each stage. Advice is always succinct and professional.’

‘The team offers a broad depth and range of knowledge across the commercial real estate offering. Led by Simon Burson, the approach and ethos of the team is of exceptional quality and value. I would highly recommend to any investor or developer looking for a tailored offering.’

Key clients

Cambridge Molecular Diagnostics Ltd

Fin Capital Limited

Chassis-Cab Limited

Source BioScience Limited

Inotec AMD Limited

East Suffolk Council

Laragh House Developments

Kurt Geiger

Eskmuir Properties

Highgate Trustees

Cowen International Limited

Patria Investments

Harrods Limited

Kiss Communications Limited

Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft Atiengesellschaft in München (Munich Re)

Work highlights

  • Acting for Harrods Aviation Ltd on the acquisition, by way of the purchase of shares in Fayair (Stansted) Limited of additional larger facilities and ancillary offices at Stansted Airport.
  • Acting for East Suffolk Council on the Lowestoft Flood Risk Management Project, a project to mitigate the risk of flooding in Lowestoft through the construction of a flood wall and tidal barrier.
  • Acting for MEAG in München in respect of the ongoing lettings of LDN:W in the City of London with a further four lettings completed with a current total annual rent for all lettings in the building in excess of £5 m.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

The commercial property group at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is ‘knowledgeable, engaging, focused and experienced‘. ‘Diligent, commercially minded, responsive and proactive‘ managing associate Giorgia Clements frequently advises property investors; and associate Joanna Wilde, who joined from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, contributes her broad knowledge of commercial property transactions, in addition to landlord and tenant matters. Former practice head Sarah Coates left the team in July 2023.

Other key lawyers:

Giorgia Clements; Joanna Wilde


‘I want a diligent, commercially minded, responsive and proactive solicitor and that is what I get from my contact at Penningtons Cambridge.’

‘Giorgia Clements is very diligent, efficient, commercially minded and clear in her advice . She understands the assets she works on and how we need to draft the leases to make them commercial for both landlord and tenant so parties achieve their aims in a timely manner.’

‘Excellent support for clients. Clear advice, not just information dissemination. Good response times.’

‘Giorgia Clements makes very good assessments of risk. Practical solutions offered from a position of deep knowledge of property law.’

‘Penningtons are a standout organisation. I say this having been involved in a number of commercial property transactions with them over the years and just witnessing their professionalism and knowledge when up against the opposition.’

‘Knowledgeable, engaging, focused and experienced, Giorgia Clements really stands out.’

Key clients

Vindis Group

World Leading R&D company

Blues Property

Vitality Corporate Services Limited

Florida State University

Warren Capital

Hilltop Credit Partners

Work highlights

  • Acted for two companies within the Vindis group in a portfolio sale and leaseback transaction worth £22.3m, three properties being sold by and let to Vindis Group, and the remaining two properties by and to F. Vindis & Sons (Bedford).
  • Acting for an R&D company on its high value pre-let of a considerable proportion of a new-build building in Cambridge, with exchange of the agreement for lease due as soon as possible and the lease due to complete in summer 2023.
  • Acted for Warren Capital in respect of a loan to a borrower for property acquisition and development purposes worth £5.6m with £3m loan. This involved carrying out due diligence in respect of the property as well as acting on the financing documents. The firm became involved between exchange and completion of the property acquisition.

Barr Ellison LLP

Barr Ellison LLP continues to build its presence in the Cambridge market, with experienced partner and practice head Kelly Peck building capacity in the practice’s junior ranks. The group is known for ‘exceptional communication, a pragmatic approach to risk, and clear willingness to signal when a term is unacceptable‘. The ‘calm and efficient‘ Peck manages numerous property portfolios, as well as handling commercial acquisitions and refinancing projects. Associate Lucy Harrison is the key contact for the firm’s Cambridge University College clients.

Practice head(s):

Kelly Peck

Other key lawyers:

Lucy Harrison; Joshua Smart; Elizabeth Deyong


‘Unlike other practices we have interacted with on commercial property Barr Ellison just picked up the brief and progressed matters without unnecessary artificial complication’

‘Kelly Peck immediately comprehended our requirements in an unusual option/lease agreement and her expertise was always evident. Our wordings were demanding but they were incorporated succinctly and with professionalism. We felt comfortable with her acting for us.’

‘Exceptional communications; pragmatic approach to risk; clear willingness to signal when a term is unacceptable; informal contacts with opposite numbers tht are productive rather than confrontational’

‘Kelly Peck was exceptional. Her communication and calm under pressure was fantastic as we navigated the purchase of some land.’

‘They have always been incredibly responsive and skillful across a multitude of different buildings and complex challenges. We find them to be a hugely competent and social engaged, but also very approachable firm which always meets our needs.’

‘We worked for a long time with Elizabeth Deyong who was absolutely pre-eminent in her field in this region. Lucy Harrison worked alongside her and has learnt from the best, becoming our go-to person for all our property work. We value her efficiency, strong work ethic, commitment as well as generosity.’

‘Friendly and motivated team. Very impressed with their speed of execution.’

‘Kelly Peck and her team – motivated, friendly and very responsive. Good at problem solving and quick to execute.’

Work highlights

Tees Law

Tees Law is ‘thoroughly professional outfit in all aspects‘, and in 2022 the firm handled numerous strategic promotion and hybrid agreements, not only in the Eastern region, but also further afield. The practice is led from Saffron Walden,  Senior associate Alex Waples ‘has a keen eye for detail‘ and is notable for acquisitions and disposals of agricultural land, as well as renewable energy developments. Associate Piers Woods is praised for development agreements, site acquisitions and financing, infrastructure project work and utility easements.

Other key lawyers:

Alex Waples; Piers Woods; Kirsten Rimmer; Jordan Cooper


‘I would best describe Tees practise and operation as a thoroughly professional outfit in all aspects.’

‘Piers Woods’ knowledge, expert advice and professionalism gives his clients 100% satisfaction that their advice given would classify the service obtained from them both as excellent.’

‘The practice covers a wide range of legal disciplines, which means they can cover most of the requirements of a business or private client. We have dealt with partners and their teams in the areas of coveyancing (residential and commercial), commercial law and litigation and have found the individuals helpful and collaborative and, generally, responsive.’

‘Tees Law have been one of the go to firms for commercial property transactions over the last few years, given their local knowledge and expertise in the field. The ability to have regular contact and updates with those working on the deal, allows us to progress matters in an orderly fashion and achieve the ultimate goals of our mutual clients. It is also important to us that those working on the files understand how we work in addition to standards that we expect, which have always been met.’

‘Alex Waples is a pleasure to work with. He has a keen eye for detail and explains matters in a comprehensive manner for all parties involved. Importantly, Alex takes a commercial view and holistic approach which allows for a smooth transaction. We really value the ability to speak directly with Alex in order to gauge a feel and also understand certain scenarios which is very much welcome.’

‘I have used Tees for various contractual works and commercial property management/advise. I’ve always had a very good service and outcome with the work we have done together.’

‘99% of my contact is with Alex Waples. He is always very quick to respond, very knowledgable, very professional and very approachable.’

‘The team are proactive, commercial, quick to respond and personable whilst getting to the crux of any matter succintly and offering great advice.’

Key clients

Lightsource BP

Work highlights

  • Acting for Lightsource BP on the funding and operation of a range of solar installations on sites across the UK.