'We know we can rely upon the firm to bring innovative and pragmatic solutions to commercial real estate problems', says a client of Birketts LLP. A market leader in strategic land development, the firm also excels in commercial real estate transactions, real estate investment, clean and renewable energy projects, residential development and investment management. Practice head Kath Herbert takes the lead on strategic land development matters, and handles major schemes for landowners across the UK, including matters Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Bromley, Kent, South Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Lincolnshire and Gloucestershire. Claudia Haisman-Green and senior associate Helen Stewart also deal with high-value and complex strategic land and development matters, acting for both landowners and developers. Gavin Acheson and Gemma Goddard lead the real estate investment team. Jeremy Stanton focuses heavily on clean energy projects.
Commercial property: Cambridge in East Anglia
Other key lawyers:
Gavin Acheson; Gemma Goddard; Claudia Haisman-Green; Jeremy Stanton; Corinne Smith; Helen Stewart
‘The sense that they are a very safe pair of hands looking after our business. The partners are very approachable and happy to explain difficult issues. The resourcing within the firm and back up for younger members of the team appears to be thorough and very professional.’
‘Claudia Haisman-Green is a standout partner whose straightforward knowledge and advice is excellent. Corinne Smith is a standout associate whose attention to her client and overall performance is also excellent, even exceptional!’
‘We have a long-term relationship with Birketts Commercial Property team. Our long term relationship is built upon trust and we know we can rely upon Birketts to bring innovative and pragmatic solutions to commercial real estate problems. The extensive number of legal disciplines available within the Cambridge office mean that all our needs, from finance to construction, can all be dealt with locally with super efficiency.’
‘Birketts have a clear staff hierarchy and our key contact Gemma Goddard has been outstanding. Gemma is always made available at her earliest opportunity and will direct other relevant personnel that need to get involved with transactions.’
‘We have been supported by an incredibly skilled and capable team at Birketts. We approached them on the recommendation of a friend and our expectations have been exceeded over and over again.’
‘Claudia Haisman Green has done the lion’s share of the work for us. I would recommend her to anyone! She has been firm and held ground on our behalf, she has explained complicated legal positions incredibly effectively and walked us through the potential consequences of different courses of action. She has given us access to other partner specialists in the firm when it is required, giving us confidence in our plan, and in all the decision making. Her communication both face to face and written is exemplary, both in content and tone.’
‘Total confidence in their capacity to represent us as clients. Prompt referral to specialists within company where necessary. Seamless liaison between departments to our benefit. Approachable at all times, prompt return of calls when busy. Client-centred, collaborative approach: we felt valued and respected.’
‘Helen Stewart was outstanding. She was central to everything working so smoothly. At the very end, on the final day of signing contracts, when the going got very tough and barrier after barrier kept being presented by the other parties, Helen just got tougher and calmly and systematically sorted everything out. Amazing.’
Philip Goddard & Others
Priscilla Bacon Norfolk Hospice Care Limited
- Advising HSBC UK in relation to a complex secured lending transaction with a value of £3.5 million.
- Advising Philip Goddard and others on the sale of the largest family-owned veterinary group in the UK, Goddard Veterinary Group, to VetPartners.
- Providing property, construction, planning and specialist charity law advice to Priscilla Bacon Norfolk Hospice Care Limited in relation to the relocation of their hospice operations and construction of a new facility at a key strategic position adjacent to the site of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Howes Percival LLP
Howes Percival LLP has a diverse practice with expertise in residential development on behalf of national and regional developers, among them Laragh House Developments, and numerous social housing providers. It also handle commercial development projects for clients such as Turnstone Estates. The firm is also busy with the management of national property investment portfolios, and frequently acts for private overseas investors in commercial acquisitions. Practice head Michaela Henson is a recognised expert in strategic land development. Jonathan Greenhalgh, who handles complex development work, delivers 'exceptional client care and understanding'. Steven Beach has a strong reputation in commercial property investment work. Director Elizabeth Thomas and senior associate Scott Smith also play key roles in the practice.
Other key lawyers:
Steven Beach; Jonathan Greenhalgh; Elizabeth Thomas; Scott Smith
‘Exceptionally good coordination, always knowing what’s going on with different teams and areas of our work. Seamless integration.’
‘Jon Greenhalgh – exceptional client care and understanding. Scott Smith – simple explanation of complex situations, always making life easier. Ewan Treadgold – set efficiency and friendly. Charlotte Brumby – very keen and great insight for younger member’
‘The team are all very responsive, professional and hardworking. They are able to react quickly to issues by being resourceful within their network and their knowledge base is vast in the real estate arena. They are also able to get the deal done at tight timeframes when required and also able to handle multiple transactions simulataneously.’
‘Responsiveness and being very experienced in this field is key for me. I have worked with parties on the other side of the transaction and they always complain to me about not being able to get hold of their lawyers or their lawyers are not responsiveness to the clients needs. I don’t have that complaint about Howes Percival.’
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
Laragh House Developments Ltd
Luton Hoo Estate
Girton College, Cambridge
Enterprise Residential Development Limited
Mortar Investments PTE Limited
Camel Projects Limited
- Acting for Singapore-based investor Mortar Investments PTE Limited and York City Properties 2 Limited in the purchase of a Bristol portfolio and a York portfolio of student accommodation properties as a mix of SPV and property purchases.
- Advised on sale of Chesterton Mill, a multi-let office building in Cambridge conditional upon client Camel Projects (Caxton Works) Limited completing refurbishment works including a café.
- Acting for the University of Cambridge in relation to its lettings and surrenders at the prestigious Broers Building at the Hauser Forum on the West Cambridge Campus.
Mills & Reeve LLP
The Cambridge office of Mills & Reeve LLP 'provides practical solutions to property issues' and clients report that it has 'a very personable team that seeks to do a deal and find solutions to achieve their clients' goals'. The firm has a deep bench of lawyers handling high-value regional, national and cross-border matters. Charles Staveley leads the real estate investment group, Michelle Cookson handles complex investment and development projects, Vincenzo Maggio is a market-leading real estate life sciences lawyer, Christine De Ferrars Green focuses on strategic development projects, Nick Finlayson-Brown handles investment and development work for both UK and overseas clients, and Richard Noble advises on projects for clients in the not-for-profit sector. Among the principal associates Laura Ludlow is a key adviser to the education sector, Christopher Pike property portfolio management and development work, and Tom Nash focuses on strategic land deals.
Other key lawyers:
Michelle Cookson; Vincenzo Maggio; Christine de Ferrars Green; Nick Finlayson-Brown; Richard Noble; Laura Ludlow; Christopher Pike; Tom Nash
‘The practice provides practical solutions to property issues.’
‘Very personable team who seeks to do a deal and find solutions to achieve their clients’ goals.’
‘We are extremely pleased with the strong relationship we have forged with Mills & Reeve’s real estate team with whom we work on a wide variety of projects. The team operate across offices and regions to ensure we have the right people for the right jobs. Mills & Reeve invest heavily in our relationship taking time to get to know our business so as to tailor legal services, training and market updates accordingly.’
‘Christine de Ferrars Green has provided significant support for a number of years now.’
Trinity College, Cambridge
Floreat Real Estate
St John’s College, Cambridge
Peterhouse College, Cambridge
Urban & Civic
The Howard Group
Jesus College, Cambridge
Kadans Science Partner
Henley Investment Management
South Kensington Estate
University of Birmingham
- Advised The Welding Institute on all aspects of the structuring and sale of Zone 2, Granta Park to Blackstone.
- Advised Kadans Science Partner on the acquisition of property at Kings Cross, London for development of new life sciences and technology innovation space.
- Acting for Brookgate on the commercial pre-lets of units within its transformational regeneration project around Cambridge station.
Taylor Vinters, Part of the Mishcon de Reya Group
Taylor Vinters, Part of the Mishcon de Reya Group is 'very knowledgeable, very professional, very quick and full of common sense'. 'An efficient, friendly, commercial practice that is very much an extension of our in-house department', remarks one client. Head of real estate Helen Mutucumarana leads a broad practice that has particular strength in investment acquisitions and leasing, energy transactions, flexible office leasing and management, strategic land promotions, joint venture and collaboration agreements, and complex development work. Head of commercial real estate James Slinger handles complex acquisition, development and leasing transactions, flexible office leasing and management, renewable energy projects, and property issues arising from corporate transactions. Senior associates Elliot Wilson and Keven Fehmi, and associate Becky Woodcock also play key roles in the practice.
Helen Mutucumarana; James Slinger
Other key lawyers:
Becky Woodcock; Elliot Wilson; Keven Fehmi
‘Friendly, approachable and incredibly knowledgeable about the sector and its needs.’
‘They are focused on the client goal, meaning the full team work together to achieve the goal rather than the solicitor being the blocker.’
‘Commercially minded, they understand what a lease should look like and which points to do not matter to a client.’
‘An efficient, friendly, commercial practice that is very much an extension of our in-house department.’
‘Helen Mutucumarana and Becky Woodcock are down to earth, approachable and astute. They understand our business priorities and are key partners in our strategic development.’
‘Very knowledgeable, very professional, very quick and full of common sense.’
‘Helen Mutucumarana and Elliot Wilson are the two Taylor Vinters individuals that I deal with and who stand out. I appreciate they have a great team behind them also to carry out due diligence and administrative tasks. They give me complete confidence throughout all transactions.’
‘What attracts me to Taylor Vinters is their availability to the client and rounded knowledge of the property and life science sectors.’
Knotel UK Limited
TTP Campus Limited
Babraham Research Campus
Elgin Energy EsCo Limited
River Lane Research Limited
Freeline Therapeutics Limited
Gyroscope Therapeutics Limited
Garden Campus Limited
N.P.K Holdings Limited
- Assisted Elgin with the sale of the UK’s largest solar portfolio to date by capacity to Iberdrola’s Scottish Power Renewables.
- Advising TTP Campus Limited on the sale of the Melbourn Science Park for £46m to major life science developer, Bruntwood and assisting with the development of new bespoke HQ to the rear of the Park.
- Advised MathWorks on their lease and fit-out of approximately 93,000 square feet at Cambridge Science Park being the largest leasing transaction in the City at the time.
‘It felt as though they put the client first, they delivered the work on time and were easy and pleasant to deal with‘, remarks a client of Ashtons Legal. The firm has a single real estate practice across all of its regional offices, but the Cambridge office is a key hub in its network. Head of real estate Magnus McManus frequently acts for Cambridge colleges and private investors. Michael Fahy , who joined through the merger with Steeles Law, counts the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy among his clients. Partner Sheila Small leads the development of the commercial property practice, while newly promoted partner Charlotte Vallins focuses on commercial landlord and tenant matters, and advises clients on investment and operational portfolios.
Other key lawyers:
Sheila Small; Michael Fahy; Charlotte Vallins; Rhian Brook
‘Sheila Small – I completely feel like she is really looking out for me, to do her best for what’s right for us.’
‘Charlotte Vallins was helpful and easy to deal with, was professional and efficient and I would recommend her to clients and we are planning on referring more work to her. We had little contact with the partners but that was not a problem at all as Charlotte handled matters very efficiently.’
‘Very quick feedback times, allowing you to react to situations with confidence. Go the extra mile by telling you additional information around a topic that may be of use had you known further down the line.’
‘Michael Fahy is quick to feedback and very thorough, you have confidence that all potential issues are covered. Other solicitors used in the past have left you feeling ‘bottom of the pile’ almost as though they are the client, this is certainly not the case with Michael.’
‘I have worked with Michael Fahy for ten years and find his knowledge, experience and all-round service excellent. In my view he consistently delivers exceptional, and timely, service.’
‘Rhian Brook delivers quality results with a commercial and pragmatic approach. She wants to understand the wider background to what we are seeking to do doing and sets her advice against that wider context.’
‘The combination of the professional work, delivered with an understanding of the context of the transaction and the background of the client was notable. Many firms have become “tick box” operations where the system appears to be more important than the client, but that is not the case at Ashtons. It felt as though they put the client first, they delivered the work on time and were easy and pleasant to deal with.’
‘I have always found the team to be very commercial and pragmatic, and able to respond to the brief quickly and effectively.’
Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy
Derek Ingram Limited
East Coast College
C J Coleman Limited
A C S & T
Equitix Management Services Limited
Savills (UK) Limited
House Group Developments Limited
Signs Express Limited
Abel Homes Limited
W N Developments Limited
M Scott Properties Limited
A client of BDB Pitmans remarks that ‘the openness of the firm is refreshing, along with the depth of experience and they have been very flexible and embraced new ways of communicating‘. The firm is frequently instructed by clients in the life sciences sector, handling landlord and tenant matters concerning Cambridge science parks. Practice head Simon Burson and senior associate Joe Taylor, whose advice is ‘first-class and everything is completed on time and on budget‘, acted for Kiss Communications in the lease of new office space in the centre of Cambridge. Legal director Katy Klingopulos handles site acquisition and development funding, and works closely with the firm’s construction, planning and plot sales teams.
Other key lawyers:
Joe Taylor; Katy Klingopulos
‘I think the openness of the firm is refreshing, along with the depth of experience which gives them a broad appeal, they have been very flexible and embraced new ways of communicating like teams.’
‘Advice has been first class and everything has been completed on time and on budget.’
Cambridge Molecular Diagnostics Ltd
Fin Capital Limited
Source BioScience Limited
Inotec AMD Limited
East Suffolk Council
Fore Hill Ely LLP (Laragh Homes)
Cowen International Limited
Kiss Communications Limited
- Acting for East Suffolk Council on the Lowestoft Flood Risk Management Project, a £67m project to mitigate the risk of flooding in Lowestoft through the construction of a flood wall and tidal barrier.
- Acting for Kiss Communications Limited in relation to a new lease of office space in the historic Pitt Building located in the centre of Cambridge.
- Acting for Source BioScience Limited on the £5 million sale and leaseback of premises in Nottingham to facilitate an IPO being dealt with by the firm’s corporate team.
HCR Hewitsons, which merged with local firm Hewitsons in 2021, has a team of partners with long experience in the Cambridge market and is well known for advising developers, landowners, investors, landlords, tenants and promoters on acquisitions and disposals, portfolio management, property finance and occupancy matters. One client remarks that the firm provides ‘consistently professional service‘ and notes that practice head James Simpson is ‘excellent – highly professional, pragmatic and diligent‘. Partners Susanne Hinde, who focuses on investment and landlord and tenant matters, and Ceri Riddell, who acts for acts for landowners, promoters and developers of both residential and commercial land, are also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
Susanne Hinde; Ceri Riddell
‘Consistently professional service that we have used for several years now.’
‘James Simpson is excellent – highly professional, pragmatic and diligent.’
Hill Residential Limited
The Howard Group
Cambridge Investment Partnership
The Chesterford Group (brands including Fish’n Chick’n and Churchill’s)
Oxbridge Colleges (various)
Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst
Anglian Country Inns
HTS Estates Limited
- Advised Hill Residential Limited in their joint venture with L&Q Estates under which the 2 parties are acting as joint promoters of a site of circa 1350 acres with the potential for up to 8500 homes.
- Acting for the landlord of Granta Park on the grant of various leases at the Granta Centre including the grant of a lease of new headquarters to Metrion Biosciences Limited.
- Advising Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst on the grant of leases and property management matters on their open innovation campus.
Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP
'Practical, clear advice is given', notes a client of Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP, adding that its lawyers are 'knowledgeable, and the fact that they presented issues with possible solutions was appreciated'. The firm acts for global banks, developers, housing associations, science parks, colleges and wealthy families in real estate matters, and counts Samsung Cambridge Solution and HSBC UK Bank among its clients. Practice head Sarah Coates has notable expertise in the acquisition and set-up of residential development sites, development finance secured lending and refinance work and landlord and tenant matters. She advised Hilltop Credit Partners on the £3m acquisition and development facility for a residential project in Brinkworth. Senior associate Giorgia Clements is recommended for her work for property investors.
Other key lawyers:
‘Practical, clear advice given.’
‘Knowledgeable, and the fact that they presented issues with possible solutions was appreciated.’
HT Credit Partners
Samsung Cambridge Solution
HSBC UK Bank PLC
- Acting for Hilltop Credit Partners in connection with the provision of a development finance facility of £8.7million to Mitchian Alliance Limited of a site in Leicester.
- Acting for Hilltop Credit Partners in the provision of an acquisition and development facility worth £3m for a residential development site in Brinkworth.
- Acting for HSBC on the grant of financing for the acquisition by the borrower of the freehold interest in a tenanted property.
Tees Law climbs the ranking due to its growing workload in strategic promotion, option and hybrid agreements for landowners, acquisitions of residential development sites, sales of agricultural land and farms, renewable energy projects with a focus on solar, wind farm and battery storage, and also landlord and tenant matters. The firm has 'great range and depth to its business which allows their solicitors to build great relationships with their clients so that they understand their client's specific legal needs and proactively advise accordingly'. Practice head James Dowson and senior associate Alex Waples are 'very user-friendly, available and proactive in finding solutions'.
Other key lawyers:
‘Tees has a great range and depth to their business which allows their solicitors to build great relationships with their clients so that they understand their client’s specific legal needs and proactively advise accordingly. Tees provide consistently excellent and high quality advice across a range of departments as and when required.
‘Above all, Alex Waples’ unwavering can-do attitude makes him stand out in his field. Alex is able to accommodate time timescales when necessary and provides detailed commercial advice in a way which is easy to understand and gets straight to the crux of the issue whilst ensuring that he is protecting our interests at all times. Alex maintains a great working relationship with his clients through his effective communication and speedy responses – he is an essential and much valued part of our business.’
‘James Dowson and his team are very user friendly, available and proactive in finding solutions.’
‘Excellent personal service. Good grasp of the broader project picture and access to specialist knowledge where required. I enjoy the continuity in dealing with the same people and not simply redirected elsewhere.’
‘Alex Waples – Good grasp of project and the possible longer-term benefits/implications, asks the right questions and takes appropriate time before delivering a considered response.’
‘Well established team led by the very approachable James Dowson. They have a number of lawyers at varying fee levels to meet the client/job requirements. Seamless working between offices.’
‘A very friendly and approachable team, with notable mention of James Dowson and Alex Waples who have been at the firm for a number of years and know their market well. Good value for money for the level of service given.’
‘Communication with all Tees staff is good. Can always get to speak to the person I need to. From accounts to administration to para legal to solicitors all are approachable and will explain in laymans terms anything I have struggled to understand.’
- Advising property investor and development clients in connection with their large property portfolio.
- Acting for landowners in connection with the grant of an option as part of a long term nationally significant strategic redevelopment of land.
- Advising a key landowning client with a diverse estate and investment portfolio on their commercial property transactions and leases, including the purchase of a large farm.
Barr Ellison LLP
Barr Ellison LLP joins the ranking having hired Kelly Peck from Greenwoods Legal in 2021. The firm now handles a significant flow of real estate portfolio work, and commercial landlord and tenant matters. It is also active in a growing number of property development projects on behalf of developers, but also has a substantial practice advising landowners. Former practice head Elizabeth Deyong continues as a consultant, predominantly acting for developers of housing, office, business and retail park projects. The practice is 'attentive, thorough, and efficient'. Associate Lucy Harrison 'impresses with what she is able to take on and provides superb service'.
Other key lawyers:
Elizabeth Deyong; Lucy Harrison
‘Kelly Peck dealt with our transaction and way leave in a very professional manner.’
‘We have a good relationship with the Barr Ellison LLP (Cambridge) team, finding them to be attentive, thorough, and efficient. On top of this, we would say the team show good use of problem solving and are well organised.’
‘Individuals from the Barr Ellison LLP (Cambridge) team have stand out qualities which include offering a caring and considerate attitude towards us whilst providing balanced views. With this, we have good well established relationships, working together to stride forward.’
‘In our experience and opinion Barr Ellison are the best commercial property lawyers in our area. They have always given us the highest quality advice and a feeling of being their only client, despite no doubt being very busy managing caseloads. As a charity we have had some complex and critical deals which BE have always handled calmly and achieved a successful outcome.’
‘Elizabeth Deyong is regarded as one of the pre-eminent commercial lawyers in the area. She has trained Lucy Harrison brilliantly, and we now mostly work with her; she is unassuming and diligent and gets the work done efficiently and as good value for money as she can, as she knows our situation.’
‘Able to overcome any obstacle thrown in their way. They have the ability to make you feel comfortable asking questions when in doubt and taking time to explain.’
‘Able to handle a diverse range of commercial property requirements with ease, including multi-stakeholder promotion agreements of varying complexity. Glass half-full approach with can-do attitude.’
‘Lucy Harrison – truly impressed by what she was able to take on with two parallel transactions without dropping anything at all. A superb service.’
Abbeymill Homes Limited
Kings College Cambridge
- Advising Kings College, University of Cambridge on a number of leases, renewals, variations and assignments in relation to their extensive property portfolio.
- Advising Abbeymill Land Limited on series of hybrid option/promotion agreements with an aggregate value of £25 million.
- Advice to The Abbey Group Cambridgeshire Limited on acquisition of development site, conditional on planning to include sub sales of parts, also conditional on planning and compliance with planning requirements.
Greenwoods Legal is active in development projects in and around Cambridge, drawing on the firm’s well-established reputation in the education, technology and hospitality sectors. Associate Ellen Cole is the key practitioner in Cambridge and works closely with the real estate practice in the firm’s Peterborough office. Her work focuses predominantly on commercial property refinancing, landlord and tenant portfolios, and providing strategic advice to development clients. Lisa Mantle joined London firm Freedman + Hilmi.
Other key lawyers: