Commercial property: Cambridge in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

The commercial property practice of Birketts LLP in Cambridge climbs the ranking this year. It handles the full range of work but has a key focus on strategic land development, for which lead partner Katherine Herbert has a national reputation, as well as real estate investment for property funds and high-net-worth individuals. Herbert and senior associate Claudia Haisman-Green handle major strategic land schemes for landowners all over the UK. Partner Gavin Acheson and newly hired senior associate Gemma Goddard from Slaughter and May deal with real estate investment work Senior associate Deborah Marshall focuses on residential and commercial development matters.

Practice head(s):

Katherine Herbert

Other key lawyers:

Gavin Acheson; Claudia Haisman-Green; Liz Lacey; Deborah Marshall; Gemma Goddard; Nick Pickersgill; Isabel Wightman-Cooper; Emma Medina-Wallace; Dwight Patten


“The team at Birketts is very efficient and works well together to support each other as well as us. This is important to us so that we know that someone is always available to deal with an issue.”

“The lawyers are all knowledgable but one of their big strengths is their ability to be commercial as well to see through some of the finer details to get results.”

“Katherine Herbert, the partner in charge of the team, has dealt with our work for more than 20 years, so she has the background knowledge to pass on to her younger team. Katherine has always impressed us with her knowledge and ability and although she does not need to deal with our day to day work anymore, having her in the backgorund to be called on if needed is valuable.”

“I would like to highlight Deborah Marshall and Sarah Willis for their standout performances. Both have proved themselves to be outstanding in delivering good service to us on both the smaller landlord and tenant jobs and the bigger land deals.”

“Deborah Marshall and Sarah Willis are efficient in responding to calls and emails and get documentation drafted quickly and to a high standard.”

“Sarah Willis has proved to be good at working well with other professionals including our architect, with whom she has liaised on my instruction regarding Land Registry issues.”

“Katherine Herbert has an encyclopedic knowledge of our holdings and the mechanics of our agreements with business partners.”

“Deborah Marshall has built a strong knowledge of our holdings over the last three years and has an excellent eye for detail, and her due diligence is second to none.”

“The firm has strength in depth, and is efficient and responsive to clients’ time imperatives.”

“The team is always available, accessible, responsive, confident and determined to get the job done in the client’s best interests.”

“I have used several other leading firms of similar size in the past, but the expertise at Birketts far exceeds those others.”

“Katherine Herbert runs a very professional team. We have been impressed by those appointed by Katherine to help us, in particular we have had Emma Medina-Wallace. Both Katherine and Emma are first-rate in meetings and in quality of drafting.”

“The team has shown a good understanding of us, as an organisation, and has dealt professionally and promptly with a wide range of different property transactions for us.”

“The team is always willing to pick up on queries, and has given us comfort that we have been in safe hands. They have used their local knowledge and legal expertise to steer us competently through myriad complex transactions.”

“Personal engagement helps to make you feel valued as a client, and that your needs are of utmost importance to them, which is not always the case with every firm. Deborah Marshall has been a good example of those standout qualities.”

Key clients

Grovemere Property Limited

Pemberton Trustees

Ely North Consortium

Cambridgeshire County Council

Hopkins Homes Limited

Leighton Buzzard Golf Club

Amadeus Capital Partners Limited

Needingworth Limited

Pro Cam CP/Europe Limited

Rapid Solutions (International) Limited

Royale Parks Ltd

The Bell Educational Services Ltd

Larkfleet Limited

World Medicine Limited

Jesus College Oxford

Inspired Asset Management

IW Group Services (UK) Limited

Jockey Club Racecourses Limited

RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP

Work highlights

  • Advising on a £140m acquisition of a portfolio of 30 UK industrial estates.
  • Acting for Enterprise Residential Development Limited on all aspects of its residential development site acquisitions and subsequent plot sales.
  • Acting for landowners in the £16.5m sale of part of a site.
  • Acting for Royale Parks Limited in connection with a £200m financing by ICG-Longbow of an existing portfolio of 22 properties and the simultaneous acquisition of seven properties.
  • Represented client on the strategic acquisition of new headquarters premises conditional on completion by the landlord of the construction of the premises.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

The Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP real estate practice acts for an impressive list of national and international clients in the regional, London and international markets. Among its clients are private and public sector developers, land promoters, corporate and institutional occupiers, as well as institutional, private and offshore investors. The firm's broad offering includes market-leading knowledge of property matters in the transport, hotel, education and senior living sectors.  Dominic Morris, who focuses on development and regeneration projects, and Clare Whitaker, who handles investment and occupier matters, lead the practice.

Practice head(s):

Dominic Morris; Clare Whitaker

Other key lawyers:

Jamie Cawthorn; Geoff Street; Claire Morgan; Megan D’Souza-Mathew

Key clients

Signature Senior Lifestyle

Audley Group

Dacorum Borough Council

Legal & General Senior Living

Mayfield Villages

Taylor Wimpey

Homes England


Mace Developments

Legal & General UK Property Fund

Work highlights

  • Eversheds Sutherland acted on all aspects of Mayfield’s first acquisition of a retirement village site in Watford, Hertfordshire which will deliver 253 homes for the over 55s.
  • Advising Audley on a £125m refinancing deal with HSBC and Bank Leumi (UK).
  • Advising Signature on all legal aspects of acquisition, development and funding of its care homes including its current relationship with Welltower Inc and Revera Inc who provide financing backing to Signature.
  • Acting on the disposal of a town centre site in Hemel Hempstead to Hill Residential for residential development in a scheme comprising 200 residential units and a 6,000 sq ft convenience store.
  • Acting for Mace Developments on its appointment by Stevenage Borough Council as developer for the council’s SG1 regeneration project in Stevenage town centre.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has a large commercial property practice that handles regional, national and international property transactions for blue-chip clients. It has a nationally recognised specialist real estate finance team, led from Cambridge by Charles Staveley, who acts for institutional pension funds, management houses, property companies, and onshore and offshore investors. Key partner Vincenzo Maggio handles investment work and landlord and tenant matters, particularly those involving science parks. The firm's development work in the higher education sector is led by partner Michelle Cookson, while Christine De Ferrars Green handles large development projects for clients such as Urban&Civic and Keepmoat Homes. Nick Finlayson-Brown, who is now head of the Cambridge office, Richard Noble and Tim Allsop are also key partners in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Beverley Firth

Other key lawyers:

Charles Staveley; Vincenzo Maggio; Michelle Cookson; Christine de Ferrars Green; Nick Finlayson-Brown; Richard Noble; Tim Allsop; Amanda Tagg; Joanna Davies; Laura Ludlow; Sarah Cooke; Nick Harris; Tom Nash; Christopher Pike

Key clients

Floreat Real Estate

St John’s College, Cambridge

Railways Pension Fund

University of Cambridge


Marshall Group Properties

Howard Group

The University of Northampton


Autolus Limited

Pigeon Group

O&H Properties

Hillview Group

Family Mosaic

Trinity Hall, Cambridge

Axis Land Partnerships Limited

Hill Residential

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Keepmoat Homes

Ipswich Borough Council

Work highlights

  • Advising  on a series of development land transactions and finance arrangements for commercial development at the Enterprise Campus and residential development within the first neighbourhood at Alconbury Weald, which will provide at least 5,000 new homes and 3m square feet of commercial space.
  • Advising the University of Cambridge on its proposals for the Old Press/ Mill Lane site, which is a compelling project and once in a generation opportunity to be involved in reshaping and regenerating two city blocks in the heart of Cambridge.
  • Working together with St John’s College Cambridge, Turnstone Estates and Savills on the speculative development and letting of a new office building comprising 63,704 sq ft  Grade A office and R&D space at the Maurice Wilkes Building on St John’s Innovation Park in Cambridge.
  • Supported biopharmaceutical company Autolus Limited with its move into the BBC’s former offices in White City (known as MediaWorks), having previously acted for them on their existing premises at Forest House which forms part of Imperial College’s “ThinkSpace” campus.
  • Instructed by investment manager Floreat Real Estate on the acquisition by a BVI fund of two office buildings in Bristol and Cardiff for a price in excess of £30m via the purchase of a Jersey registered holding company and on the acquisition financing from Investec Bank.

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal has 'an excellent team of lawyers who provide excellent proactive advice', according to one client. The commercial property practice is led from Ipswich but the Cambridge office houses substantial expertise in partner Magnus McManus, senior associates Charlotte Vallins, Sophie McCadney and Rhian Brook, and associate Jenny Lewis. Together, they act for numerous Cambridge colleges in high-value property transactions. The practice also handles work for a leading regional estate agent, advises on major property development projects across the region, and assists a leading regional lender with high-profile matters.

BDB Pitmans

BDB Pitmans opened its Cambridge office in 2017, with real estate the core practice; the merger of legacy firms Bircham Dyson Bell and Pitmans in 2018 gave the office a key role in the firm-wide real estate practice, which has a national focus. Lead partner Simon Burson handles acquisitions, disposals and the day-to-day management of the property portfolios for clients such as Eskmuir Properties and Cording Real Estate Group. Senior associate Katy Klingopulos handles residential and commercial development projects for landowners and developers.

Practice head(s):

Simon Burson

Other key lawyers:

Katy Klingopulos

Key clients

Eskmuir Securities Limited

Frasers Riverside Quarter Limited

Bioregional Homes Limited


Foundation for Language and Educational Centres (Eurocentres)

Cording Real Estate Group

Kurt Geiger Limited

Guilden Morden Community Pub Limited

Turnbull & Asser Limited

Merrill Corporate Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Eskmuir Securities Limited in the £3.3m acquisition of additional land (5.81 acres) adjacent to the existing retail park at Sweet Briar Retail Park, Norwich to facilitate a 71,000 sq ft extension for uses within Class 1, B1, B2 and B8 plus gym.
  • Acted on the £28m sale of 93 residential units in Block 6B Riverside Quarter, Wandsworth, London to Optivo, a registered provider of social housing.
  • Acted for FIH Group Plc. on the purchase of Units 7-14, East 10 Enterprise Park, Leyton, London from H. Young & Co. Limited for £18.5m including advising on due diligence and contract documentation.
  • Acting for the Foundation for Language and Educational Centres in a cross-border matter involving the £28m sale of two language schools in London and Cambridge to the same buyer.
  • Acted for Cording Real Estate Group on the sale of Lineside Industrial Estate in Sussex to Legal & General LGIM Real Assets for £21m.


Hewitsons frequently handles large and complex projects, particularly in the leisure and residential sectors. It also advises technology and biotechnology companies on matters such as science park lettings, and has significant expertise in strategic land deals. Practice head James Simpson has a strong reputation for complex development and strategic land transactions and Graeme Sampson handles complex mixed-use development projects for developers, landowners and institutions. Both are supported by rising star senior associate Ceri Riddell. Partner Susanne Hinde manages a separate team that handles landlord and tenant and investment matters.

Practice head(s):

James Simpson


‘Friendly, efficient, pragmatic, sound, cost effective advice.’

‘A particular pleasure to work with James Simpson and Michael Russell, a steadier and more effective two pairs of hands it would be hard to match. Both have consistently proven their superior experience above their counterparts in acquisitions on our behalf.’

Key clients

Homes England

The Howard Group

Hill Residential Limited

Turnstone Estates Group

The Chesterford Group

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst

Swiss Laundry Ltd

Anglian Country Inns

HTS Estates Limited

Lloyds Bank Plc


Work highlights

  • Acted for Hill Residential Limited in their complex joint venture arrangements with Marshall Group relating to the delivery of infrastructure and 500 homes on the first phase of a £22m development at the Wing Development, a landmark development of up to 1,300 homes for the city of Cambridge.
  • Continuing to act for Hill Residential in connection with a number of flagship transactions at the University of Cambridge’s North-West Cambridge development site.
  • Acted for the landowners on the £30m sale of the first phase, comprising approximately 900 houses, of a  site for which planning has been obtained for a residential development of approximately 2,500 units together with primary schools, local centres (including retail and employment uses), open space and landscaping.
  • Acting on a planned programme of disposals of over half a dozen properties together with the subsequent acquisition (and related funding) of several properties.
  • Continuing to advise ambitious not for profit Open Innovation Bioscience Park in relation to all lettings in the Incubator and Accelerator Buildings as well as various licences to occupy, licence for alterations (sometimes affecting common infrastructure) and wayleave agreement (Code Agreement); instructions in relation to the expansion of the park are imminent.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP has a broad commercial property practice that handles high-value residential development projects for clients such as Hill Residential and commercial development work for the likes of Turnstone Estates, as well as the management of real estate investment portfolios and property finance transactions for major lenders. The firm has niche expertise in key sectors such as tourism, leisure, education, technology and the public sector. It has a group of highly experienced partners in practice head Jonathan Greenhalgh, 30-year market veteran Steven Beach and strategic land specialist Michaela Henson. Director Will Stokes is a rising star.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Greenhalgh

Other key lawyers:

Steven Beach; Michaela Henson; Will Stokes; Helen Stewart


“Overall, the firm has a strong team with good sector specialists. I have found them to be good and approachable.”

“Will Stokes is sensible, approachable and tends to keep us in the picture through the process.”

Key clients

Cambridge University Endowment Fund

Hill Residential Limited

Turnstone Estates Limited

Greene King Plc

Girton College, Cambridge

East Cambs Trading Company Limited

Abcam Plc

Ely Cathedral

Artisan (UK) Developments Ltd

Newcore Capital Management LLP

Luton Hoo Estate

Work highlights

  • Sale of graduate accommodation site and children’s nursery for a Cambridge College.
  • Assisting Raspberry Pi with their office relocation to two sites within Cambridge, including taking space at a new-build office at St John’s Innovation Park.
  • Acting for the occupational tenant on its letting of a new headquarters building at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.
  • Acting for the seller in the £20m disposal of an investment hotel property in Bath.
  • Acting for a national housebuilder acquiring a site for the development of up to 98 dwellings

Taylor Vinters

'The team is always pleased to help and has a friendly whilst very professional approach', remarks a client of Taylor Vinters who praises its 'willingness to find innovative solutions'. The firm advises a diverse range of international and domestic clients in the region, in London and across the UK, ranging from innovative and entrepreneurial businesses to individuals and charities. The key strengths of the practice, led by Helen Mutucumarana and James Slinger, lie in investment acquisitions and leasing, energy transactions, strategic land promotions, joint venture and collaboration agreements, complex development work, and landlord and tenant matters.

Practice head(s):

Helen Mutucumarana; James Slinger

Other key lawyers:

Elliot Wilson; Becky Woodcock; Kevin Fehmi


“I have worked with Taylor Vinters for the past five years and in that time the team has remained constant which is a hugely important factor. I have complete confidence in assistance and help every time I email or call and despite my relatively poor legal knowledge, am given the time and patience required to help.”

“All work has been dealt with professionally and in a friendly manner. Helen Mutucumarana and Elliot Wilson are a pleasure to work with.”

“Helen Mutucumarana is always there to assist, regardless whether the work is a multimillion-pound acquisition or an explanation of a basic legal term. I have full trust in her advice and work. She is very professional and a lovely person.”

“Elliot Wilson is very capable, helpful, knowledgeable and professional, and he makes a great team with Helen Mutucumarana.”

“Keven Fehmi is a real hot-shot associate. I would hugely recommend working with him.”

“Taylor Vinters consistently offers a high level of service, with work completed on time, and it provides confidence and reassurance that matters instructed will be addressed.”

“Alongside the skill set and expertise offered by the real estate team, wider department resources are on hand to assist and work in collaboration if matters fall outside its remit.”

“I cannot find fault with their work. The individuals I have worked with closely are very friendly, attentive and always willing to help. Work completed is to an exceptionally high standard and on time.”

“There is a structured, efficient and client-focused approach. At all times everyone is aware of progress and are willing to assist. Legal matters are also explained clearly so instructions can be provided with confidence.”

“Helen Mutucumarana and Elliot Wilson are true ambassadors for Taylor Vinters and it is a joy working with them.”

Key clients

Jockey Club Estates

Melbourn Science Park Limited

Babraham Research Campus

Elgin Energy Limited

Clearstone Energy Limited

Freeline Therapeutics Limited

GCR CamProp

Work highlights

  • Advised Prowler.IO Ltd on the lease of 72 Hills Road, Cambridge followed by subsequent sublets.
  • Acting on behalf of gas power station generation company Clearstone Energy Ltd on the leasehold acquisition of sites across the UK for the installation of generation equipment and connection to the National Grid (between 20MW and 40MW).
  • Advising on construction, development, leasing and planning matters to assist Melbourn Science Park Limited with its expansion plans.
  • Acting for Babraham Research Campus on its property management issues and also on its larger development transactions, including  advising on occupational lettings to enterprising biotech and life science companies.

Greenwoods GRM

Greenwoods GRM handles high-value work for clients in the development, investment, financial, education and food sectors. Kelly Peck leads the Cambridge practice and works closely with Karin Horsley, who works mainly from the Peterbourough office. Peck continued to build the firm's presence in the market in 2018, through her strong connections with agents, surveyors and other professional referrers. She is supported by associate Neville Drummond who has 20 years' experience in commercial and residential property transactions, and who handles landlord and tenants matters.

Practice head(s):

Kelly Peck

Other key lawyers:

Karin Horsley; Neville Drummond; Ellen Cole


“The firm provides rapid response, is to the point and there is no wasting of time. It is good value for money and has experienced and knowledgeable people.”

“Neville Drummond is calm and has a good sense of humour.”

“They are very professional, experienced, intellectual and knowledgeable. Compared to other firms, Greenwoods takes a very friendly and down-to-earth approach to ensure its clients fully understand the advice.”

“I have worked with Kelly Peck over the years and there has never been a task too large or too difficult or too complicated for her. She uses her knowledge, experience, logical thinking and commercial accruement to get the job done within the timescale, regardless of how tight it is.”

“Our situation was quite complex and required a lot of liaison, both nationally and internationally. Greenwoods took all these issues on and even managed to complete the process ahead of schedule. It is absolutely remarkable in the way that it took the pressure off us as its clients in a very pressurised situation.”

“From the very outset we were reassured that this was a task Greenwoods could take on and were willing to lead and steer us through all the ups and downs along the way. We found the commitment, expertise and professionalism of Kelly Peck crucial in this process.”

“Greenwoods provides a very responsive and professional service ensuring you understand the issues and providing the most appropriate advice on how to proceed.”

“Kelly Peck is a helpful, responsive and attentive member of the Greenwoods team.”

Key clients

Cambridge Academy of English

Fairline Yachts


Robin Nichols

Qualitest Group UK

Robinson Manufacturing

LC Landlords Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Cambridge Academy of English, an institution in the top 2% of all UK English language schools, on complex property matters.
  • Supporting the expansion plans of Fairline Yachts Ltd, a British manufacturer of luxury motor yachts.
  • Retainer for OpenArch Properties Limited, a leading property rental specialist within the Cambridgeshire area.
  • Dealing with secured borrowing against a multi-let building in central London to raise project finance for the development of an exciting new mixed-use development scheme in Holborn, London for this international client.
  • A large, multimillion-pound deal acting for the landowner, selling a site for development.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

The 'proactive, thorough and diligentPenningtons Manches Cooper LLP's real estate team in Cambridge acts for a range of clients across many sectors including global banks, developers, housing associations, science parks, colleges and high-net-worth families. The lawyers are 'extremely thorough and professional in everything they do', and one client remarks that lead partner Sarah Coates is 'highly accessible and knowledgeable; she has a great eye for detail and is excellent in her appraisal of risks'. Coates has particular expertise in the acquisition and set-up of residential development sites, development finance secured lending and refinance work, and landlord and tenant matters.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Coates

Other key lawyers:

Helen Drayton; Giorgia Clements; Becky Lund


“The team has good in-depth knowledge within its field and and is always positive and easy to deal with. We find that they are always on hand to assist with any questions we may have and we happily recommend our clients to them.”

“Sarah Coates in particular has a good in-depth understanding of the property industry, site set up and legal issues.”

“Becky Lund is also becoming a key part of the Penningtons team and her knowledge continues to grow with the support of Sarah Coates.”

“I have complete faith in Sarah Coates. She totally understands any concerns and will address them. She seems to have excellent knowledge in the field and definitely fights our corner.”

“The support team are also very thorough and always helpful.”

Key clients

This Land Limited

Murfet Group

Vindis Group

Friar’s Pride Limited

James Dolan Limited

Cytocell Limited


Max Barney Estate

Blues Property Limited

Cambridge Commodities Limited

Work highlights

  • Penningtons Manches acted on behalf of This Land Limited on the acquisition of a portfolio of Cambridgeshire-based development sites with a total purchase price of circa £17m.
  • Penningtons Manches acted for Cambridge Commodities Limited in connection with the £10m sale and leaseback of its main operational site in Ely to London Metric PLC.
  • Penningtons Manches acted for the borrower in a substantial refinancing of a mixed-use development in Newmarket.
  • Penningtons Manches acted for HSBC Bank PLC on the restructuring of a multi-let commercial property.

Tees Law

The real estate practice at Tees Law undertakes strategic promotion and option agreements for landowners and developers, site acquisition by purchase or option for residential developers, site set up, infrastructure agreements and plot sales, as well as high-value agricultural land transactions and residential enfranchisement work. Its recent strategic promotion and option agreement work has seen the practice active in sites in Suffolk, Cambridge, Essex and Hertfordshire. It has also handled residential development  work in Ware, Welwyn Garden City, Bury St Edmunds and central Cambridge. James Dowson is the key partner.

Practice head(s):

James Dowson

Other key lawyers:

Alexander Waples


“The firm is very focused on the housebuilding sector and understands the commercial drivers for its clients.”

“James Dowson is proactive, knowledgeable and extremely client-focused.”

“We have used James Dowson for the last ten years in transacting property and business acquisitions. We can only confirm that he completes these matters quickly and efficiently.”

“Alexander Waples is easy to deal with and his advice is clear and concise. We felt that our interests in two transactions in areas unfamiliar to us were well protected.”

“The practice makes the effort to truly understand my business to be able to offer the most relevant and appropriate advice.”

“Alexander Waples is very responsive, proactive and commercial – a brilliant combination to have. What is more, he exhibits this not in rare moments of brilliance, but consistently. Having such reliable professional support gives us a genuine competitive edge.”

Work highlights

  • Acting for STAN Developments in the purchase of a series of large, agricultural buildings by way of conditional contract dependant on planning for conversion to residential units, with complicated sales provisions for tax mitigation.