Commercial property: Norwich in East Anglia
'The team has a friendly, approachable manner', remarks a client of Birketts LLP, noting that 'it has the feel of a boutique firm but offers the depth and experience of a larger practice'. Handling high-value transactions across the region and nationwide, the firm has specialists in development, strategic land, property investment and portfolio management, acquisitions and disposals, landlord and tenant matters, and real estate finance. The 'exceptional' Melissa Loucas is the lead partner in Norwich and with Bhargav Trivedi she advises landowners and developers on strategic land issues. Clients also praise up-and-coming partner Cameron Barlow and senior associate Andrew Ridout.
‘Melissa Loucas and her team have completed a number of lease transactions for our company, in the UK and throughout Europe. Melissa is well respected within our company and has gained the trust of our in-house legal team. Melissa provides timely and thorough updates and is always available if needed.‘
‘It provides a welcoming environment and is easy to communicate with. There seems to be a wide range of knowledge and specialties, so I can be passed on to someone with expertise in that field if I have a specific query.‘
‘The team has a friendly, approachable manner. It seems to take a genuine interest in my organisation and how we work in order to help us in the best way.‘
‘It has the feel of a boutique firm but offers the depth and experience of a larger practice.‘
‘My main contact is Kristian Nelson, who is an associate. I was impressed with his timely response at key, pivotal points of the negotiations of the transaction. I liked the agility of addressing legal issues, and ability and familiarity with how investment funds worked. Being an overseas client, this was very helpful.‘
‘Birketts boasts considerable expertise both within the corporate property team and cross-sectorally with a wealth of experience to call upon within the firm. Its key strengths would be attention to detail and taking a pragmatic approach in being deal savvy.‘
‘Melissa Loucas is exceptional. She demonstrates real leadership qualities and absolutely takes complete ownership of any proposition her team takes on. She also follows up to see what can be learnt from each deal and always has her client as her main priority.‘
‘Andrew Ridout demonstrates a real knowledge for commercial property and also remains very calm under pressure whilst again acting in the best interests of his client at all times.‘
‘Birketts has worked with the College on a range of property transactions. Their delivery against tight deadlines, flexibility and client-handling skills are all exemplary.‘
‘Associate Joe Yexley is a standout advisor – his technical skills and support for his client base is genuinely remarkable.‘
Interbay Funding Ltd (part of One Savings Bank plc)
Surplus Property Solutions Limited
M7 Real Estate Ltd
Cambridgeshire County Council
John Innes Centre
Norwich Research Park
Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
National Westminster Bank plc
Lloyds Banking Group
Norwich Airport Limited
- Assisting Interbay Funding Ltd, a specialist commercial property and buy-to-let lender offering mortgages in England and Wales, on more than 500 instructions in 2019. The average loan size varies between £250k to £5m per matter.
- Advising Surplus Property Solutions Limited, a real estate management company which, since 2005, has specialised in mitigating the leasehold liabilities of FTSE 100 companies across the retail, office and industrial sectors. The firm undertakes all of the transactional and contentious commercial property work for the company.
- Advising M7 Real Estate Ltd, one of the leading specialists in the pan-European, regional, multi-let real estate market with more than 1,000 assets under management with a value of more than £5bn. In 2019, Birketts was appointed as legal adviser in respect of all of M7’s in-house managed UK funds, comprising over 100 industrial, office and retail assets.
Howes Percival LLP has 'a specialist and responsive team who are available when required with the advice needed to progress matters efficiently.' The five-partner real estate group excels in commercial and residential development, property investment and finance, and transactions in sectors such as energy, automotive, leisure, tourism and healthcare. Practice group head Tessa Haskey, head of development Tracey Hughes and head of residential Joanna Nicholls are the key partners in Norwich. Newly promoted partner Nicola Curle is 'pragmatic and supportive'. New hire Christopher Cubitt from Hatch Brenner LLP has a broad practice that includes residential development projects and development site set-ups.
‘A specialist and responsive team who are available when required with the advice needed to progress matters efficiently.‘
‘They are personable, responsive and understanding of our specific structure and requirements with the expertise to tailor advice accordingly.‘
‘The team has been very good at developing an excellent understanding of our particular context and needs and tailoring their service and support to those needs. They appreciate the importance of value for money solutions and take a very pragmatic approach. They take the trouble to be clear and concise in drafting – something that other firms could learn from. They have worked hard to find suitable and relevant expertise from within the wider practice, not just Norwich, so that we can see there is strength in depth. They always seem to be working together as a practice, not as individual professionals.‘
‘I have worked mainly with Nicola Curle and Helen Stewart, both of whom embody the pragmatic and supportive approach we need.‘
Ford Retail Limited
Lothbury Broadland Unit Trust and Lothbury Property Trust Company Limited
Persimmon Homes Limited (Persimmon Anglia, Suffolk, Essex & North London regions)
Hughes Electrical Limited
Braintree District Council
Norwich University of the Arts
The Trustees of the Holkham Central Estate
Big Sky Developments Limited
Citygate Developments Limited
- Acted for Ford Retail Group in the acquisition of various Quick Lane and Part Plus Sites throughout England – supporting this long standing client in its investment in the north west (Prestwich and Bolton) and south east (Colchester and Chelmsford) in particular.
- Completion of two acquisitions for Persimmon Homes Limited (Essex), which followed lengthy conditional contract periods and protracted negotiations. Stanford-le-Hope completed on 14 October 2019 and Cowdray on 30 July 2019.
- Successfully acting for Craft Leisure Limited in its purchase of Norfolk Broads Holdings Limited, which is one of the largest providers of river trips, boating holidays and boat hire on the Norfolk Broads.
Mills & Reeve LLP has a firm-wide real estate practice with key hubs in East Anglia. The firm handles high-value local, regional, national and international work that encompasses real estate development, landlord and tenant matters, corporate real estate transactions, property investment and finance. The lead partners in Norwich are Caroline Dean, who handles development work for landowners and property transactions for corporates, and Carina Cobbold, who specialises in mixed-use development sites, joint venture agreements, corporate real estate and large-scale projects. Also recommended are principal associates Lisa-Marie Kennedy, Zoe Cooke, Anna Aldous and Judy Day, and senior associate David Siddall.
‘The team at Mills and Reeve are incredibly knowledgeable, they take time to understand a clients business and will proactively manage and engage with a client.’
‘David Siddall is an excellent proactive individual who is very diligent, thorough and contactable even at extended hours.’
Anglia Innovation Partners LLP (Norwich Research Park)
Asco UK Limited
Brown Family (Holt)
Cinnamon Collection Limited
City College Norwich
Clifford Estate Company Limited
Colman Family Trust
Countrywide Legal Indemnities Limited
Department of Health
Diocese of East Anglia
East Anglian Air Ambulance
Easton & Otley College
Fitzmaurice Holdings Limited
Giraffe Concepts Limited
Group Lotus plc
John Innes Centre
John Wood Group plc
Joseph King Group
KLM UK Engineering Limited
London Diocesan Fund
Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust
Norwich City Football Club plc
Norwich Preservation Trust
Nurse Plus & Carer Plus (UK) Limited
Oasis Dental Care Limited
Peabody Developments Limited
Randall & Quilter Investments Limited
Repton Developments Limited
Serruys Property Company Limited
Solus (London) Limited
Southwold Town Council
Timewell Properties Limited
The Forum Trust
University of East Anglia
University of Suffolk
Upton Trust (Red Lodge, Suffolk)
VetPartners Limited/VetPartners Practices Limited
WR & PJ Tann
- Advising Urban&Civic on the setting up and delivery of multiple large-scale mixed-use strategic schemes sites across the UK (including regional and London-based projects).
- Advised a consortium of landowners on the setting up and subsequent development and sales of a residential-led scheme in Thetford of circa 5,000 homes and 48 acres of employment land.
- Advising KLM Engineering on the £25m development of new hangars at Norwich Airport.
Clapham & Collinge Solicitors
Clapham & Collinge Solicitors expanded its commercial property team in 2019 with the recruitment of junior lawyers, so legal executive Sarah Garlish leads a seven-lawyer group that advises public and private sector clients on the sale and acquisition of business premises, landlord and tenant matters, property finance and development work. The firm has grown its client base across Norfolk and continues to invest in the commercial side of its business to act for more high-net-worth individuals and large companies in the county.
The Benjamin Foundation
- Received several instructions from a commercial property client that included notices to quit, lease renewals, new leases and tenancies at will.
- Advised a district council on a contract for the purchase of 18 new affordable units.
- Advised a district council on adoptions of public open space, deeds of release of covenant, freehold sale, land assembly and options agreements.
A long-standing presence in the Norwich market, Fosters handles sales and purchases, leases and lease renewals, option agreements, joint ventures, corporate lending and professional landlord work. Paul Oldershaw leads the practice and handles much of the practice's development, healthcare and secured lending work. Senior associate Rachel Appleton is recommended for a range of transactional work, including matters for franchises of a global restaurant brand.
Other key lawyers:
‘Paul Oldershaw is responsive and quick to turn around work. His advice is straightforward and commercial and he is approachable and very available to talk when necessary. I would recommend.’
‘Easy access to the commercial partner. A quick and efficient service that identifies quickly with the client and acts with them in harmony.’
‘Paul Oldershaw is very easy to deal with.’
‘Efficient, compassionate, supportive and always available.’
‘All members of the team that we have dealt with have always been friendly, dedicated and readily available.’
Apple Hair Design
Roots and Wings Education
Black Orange Investments Limited
- Advised client David Charles on the acquisition of Cromer Baptist Church, a listed building, for conversion to high-end residential development.
- Advised Apple Hair Design on a complex lease for a new salon which needed to complete simultaneously with the purchase of an existing business.
- Advised Roots and Wings Education on the purchase of an agricultural barn which involved a complex first registration of the land and intensive negotiations with the seller’s solicitor.
The 'proactive and extremely helpful' practice at Spire Solicitors LLP has a large property practice consisting of four partners across Norfolk. It not only serves a national client base of housing associations, but also acts for clients involved in retail and national car parks, as well as offshore businesses. New practice head Protima Sikdar-Wood, who took over from Colin Wright following his retirement, is 'a breath of fresh air, always helpful and willing to go the extra mile for her clients'. Tim Chiverton, Annette Collen and Nick Lightbown are also recommended.
‘I deal mainly with the Commercial Department of Spire, Norwich as I find them very proactive and extremely helpful in all aspects of a transaction.‘
‘I deal with Protima Sikdar-Wood Head of Commercial at Spire, Norwich. She is a breath of fresh air to deal with. Always helpful with her advice and willing to go the extra mile for her clients and we have an extremely good business relationship. I am always happy to recommend Protima in all aspects of the commercial funding work that I deal with.‘
‘Spire Solicitors have been my solicitors for 35 years and have always been very thorough in what they have done for me in the past. In the last five years they have been very understanding to our family position and patient with us in explaining all the legal side to our business needs.‘
‘Protima Sikdar-Wood is an outstanding young solicitor who has been a great help to me and my family over the last five years. I look at her as a friend more than a solicitor. She really does that little bit extra for us and that gives us great confidence. We never need to be afraid to ask her to go over things more once if we don’t understand things.’
The property practice at Ashtons Legal is led from Ipswich and works as a single unit across all of the firm's offices. In Norwich, partner Sally Challinor focuses on commercial property transactions and environmental due diligence. The firm is known for landlord and tenant matters for investors, owners and occupiers, as well as development land transfers and options, and due diligence for industrial sites that are part of corporate transactions.
‘The practice has an intimate working knowledge of my business and my individual capabilities. This enables them to direct services to me that are relevant. Being of such a size that is big enough to have every facility that I require but not too big makes me feel valued as a client. That said, the relationship is such that they do not feel uncomfortable making me aware of risks and pointedly informing me that actions I may take may, on occasion, be against their advice. I find this invaluable and is a strength of a deep relationship.‘
‘The team is always very friendly. The main standout point is that there seems to be good communication between colleagues. At previous firms, it has been a struggle to push a job forward if someone is out of the office as no one else knows what is going on. I haven’t had this problem with Ashtons.‘
'Their attention to detail and professionalism is second to none', says a client of Cozens-Hardy LLP, which joins this year's rankings. 'When she is acting on a sale I just know we are in a safe pair of hands', says a client of Caroline Linsdell, who leads the practice with Dan Evans. The firm's work covers all aspects of commercial property, including transactions in the agricultural sector, and it frequently acts for residential developers in sales and acquisitions. It also advises numerous charities on the commercial property investments.
‘Cozens Hardy has the most professional group of solicitors that I have dealt with. Their attention to detail and professionalism is second to none.‘
‘Caroline Lindsell is my main point of contact. We sale agree a high level of high-end properties. Over the last ten years, I have dealt with many sales and solicitors, and Caroline is the best! She goes far and away beyond to sort issues with particularly difficult conveyances with an approach that is both positive professional. When she is acting on a sale I just know we are in a safe pair of hands!! I would highly recommend her to any one who wants a quality level of service that stands out far and above her competitors.‘
Steeles Law has a diverse client base of developers, investors, landlords, tenants and landowners in sectors such as retail, office, housebuilding, charities, education and agriculture. Michael Fahy, who works in both London and Norwich, has more than 30 years' commercial property experience. He is now supported by a solicitor in London. The practice is known for leasehold commercial property transactions, landlord and tenant matters, auction sales and site development.
‘Steeles Law is providing a professional and friendly service.‘
‘Simon Nicolaides is a smart and engaging lawyer who we enjoy working with. He is efficient and thorough often provided service way beyond his quoted fee structure.‘
‘We would highly recommend Simon Nicolaides within his field of law.‘
Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy
Longfield Hall Trust Limited
Blofield Nurseries Limited
The Castle Partnership
Equitix Holdings Limited
Falcon Freight Limited
East Coast College
W B A Gaze & Sons
Pirum Systems Limited
Resas Developments Limited
Together Commercial Finance Limited
Fintan Patrick Keyes
- A complex negotiation with the Local Authority on behalf of Longfield Hall Trust Limited for the surrender of an existing Lease and the grant of a longer new Lease to allow the charity to carry out major refurbishment works at the property, totalling more than £1m.
- Advising Equitix Limited on negotiating terms for an assignment of a Lease of the Thomas Cook Head Office building in City of London; during the terms of the negotiations Thomas Cook went into liquidation.
- Assisting Equitix Limited with the rationalisation of its property portfolio and, as a result, the negotiations of a new Lease for alternative premises; it needed to exercise an Option to Break on some existing premises in the City of London.