Commercial property: Norwich in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP has a large portfolio of both regional and national commercial property work in the areas of development, strategic land, investment/portfolio management, acquisitions and disposals, landlord and tenant matters, and real estate finance. Lead partner Melissa Loucas is a key adviser to clients in the automotive and retail sectors. Leading light Robert Gibbs handles high-value regeneration and strategic land projects. Bhargav Trivedi  specialises in development and strategic land deals for landowners and developers. In 2018, the firm hired legal director Cameron Barlow from US law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; he works with key clients Westbrook Partners and M7 Real Estate. Senior associate Elizabeth Lee leads on buy-to-let and commercial mortgage matters for a challenger bank.

Practice head(s):

Melissa Loucas

Other key lawyers:

Robert Gibbs; Bhargav Trivedi; Cameron Barlow; Elizabeth Lee; Joseph Yexley; Greg McCurday


“The firm provides very prompt service and replies to queries. All the advantages of a mega-firm, but at provincial rates.”

“Birketts has many types of expertise available and the team definitely goes over and above to achieve quick results when it is needed.”

“I have worked very closely with Melissa Loucas and I only have good things to say about her. Our organisation was under a considerable amount of pressure to achieve multiple contracts and Melissa handled the pressure and kept to all deadlines we had.”

“I feel as though they are working in our business as they understand everything we do and hit all deadlines. It is a proactive firm that offers sound professional advice but is also commercial.”

“Bhargav Trivedi is always available to answer questions. He turns around matters far quicker than his peers.”

“Melissa Loucas has put a fantastic team together and each one of them is fully aligned with our timelines and deliver each time. They offer sound professional advice but all of them are commercial with it.”

“I have dealt with property teams before in other firms but none come near to Birketts.”

“The firm is easy to deal with, accessible, practical and straightforward, yet with the expertise and reach to rival any big firm.”

“Melissa Loucas and her team give clear, succinct and straightforward advice and are consistently outcome-focused, adopting a commercial approach where appropriate.”

“The firm is highly knowledgeable and easy to approach to talk through cases as required.”

“Bhargav Trivedi is straightforward to deal with, coming up with appropriate solutions to ensure cases complete in an appropriate way.”

“Greg McCurday is methodical and flexible. He is efficient in the way he responds to enquiries, providing an indication of cost and completing the task. He is a helpful reference point for any queries relating to property.”

Key clients

Wallblock Projects

Cambridgeshire County Council

Westbrook Partners

M7 Real Estate Ltd

Interbay Funding Ltd

Surplus Property Solutions Limited

MH Star UK Limited

Lloyds Banking Group

Partners of Norwich Research Park

Norwich Airport Limited

Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

National Westminster Bank plc

Norwich & Waveney Enterprise Services

NFC Homes Ltd


Newbury New Homes

Norfolk County Developments

Dewing Properties


Santander UK

Work highlights

  • Acting for Surplus Property Solutions Limited (SPS) in the management and disposal of surplus property portfolio of 27+ supermarket/former supermarket premises across the country.
  • Represented MH Star UK Limited on a 15-year lease of a 123,000 sq ft warehouse premises in Doncaster.
  • Advised Stokke on its flagship store in the new £600m retail extension at Westfield London White City, Europe’s largest shopping centre.
  • Advising Cambridgeshire County Council on purchase of 251-bed purpose built student accommodation property in Cambridge for £38m; this was CCC’s first investment property acquisition.
  • Advising PSI Services (UK) Limited, one of the largest assessment providers in the world, on its property portfolio following its acquisition of the assets of LearnDirect’s e-assessment business in the UK.

Howes Percival LLP

At Howes Percival LLP 'capable individuals make up the team, which provides good response times'. The 'very thorough and diligent' Joanna Nicholls, firm chair and and practice head Tessa Haskey and development specialist Tracey Hughes are the key partners. Their work encompasses residential development for clients including Bloor Homes, commercial development for major developers and local authorities, the management of portfolio investments, and property finance in sectors such as energy, leisure, automotive, healthcare and education. Nicola Curle is recommended for projects in the education sector.

Practice head(s):

Tessa Haskey; Tracey Hughes; Joanna Nicholls

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Curle; Tom Skinner

Key clients

Ford Retail Limited

Lothbury Broadland Unit Trust and Lothbury Property Trust Company Limited

Persimmon Homes Limited (Persimmon Anglia, Essex & North London


Hughes Electrical Limited

Norwich University of the Arts

The Trustees of the Holkham Central Estate

Bloor Homes Limited

Big Sky Developments Limited

Braintree District Council

Citygate Developments Limited

Heritage Developments Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Braintree District Council in the £6m acquisition of Horizon 120 commercial development site.
  • Acting for Ford Retail on property elements of a £21.6m strategic site disposal project.
  • Acting for Persimmon on acquisition of a 187-plot residential scheme on conditional basis.
  • Acting for Ford Retail Limited on a capital project for dealership redevelopment requiring an umbrella agreement providing for licence for alterations, landlord contribution to works, construction warranties, lease extension by way of reversionary lease, and rent review variations.
  • Acquiring site for Norwich University of the Arts for educational facilities and student accommodation development.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has a large real estate practice that handles regional, national and international work. Its work encompasses development projects, landlord and tenant matters, real estate aspects of corporate transactions, investments and finance, and major projects in the renewable energy and utilities sectors. Caroline Dean, who focuses on development work for landowners, and Carina Cobbold, who specialises in mixed-use development sites, joint venture agreements, corporate real estate and large-scale projects, are the lead partners. Associate Lisa-Marie KennedyAnna Aldous and Zoe Cooke are rising stars in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Dean; Carina Cobbold


‘Mills & Reeve have served our group well over a number of years and have always been ready able and willing to serve our business. One strength is they seek to understand our business requirements and question our understanding of our instructions. Consistency of staff and key people is also very important and saves time and cost to us both. We have used other firms of solicitors, but have found that Mills & Reeve caters for our needs better than others.’

‘Carina Cobbold is a stand out partner who has acted for our group for many years. Her level of knowledge and understanding are excellent, but her methodical explanation of complex concepts within deals is second to none. This approach does filter down into her team. Anna Aldous shares many of the same qualities.’

Key clients

Anglia Innovation Partners LLP (Norwich Research Park)

Archant Group

Asco UK Limited

Brown Family (Holt)

Central Trust

Cinnamon Collection Limited

City College Norwich

Clifford Estate Company Limited

Colman Family Trust

Countrywide Legal Indemnities Limited

Department of Health

Diocese of East Anglia

Easton & Otley College

Family Mosaic (to be called Peabody Developments Limited)

Fitzmaurice Holdings Limited

Giraffe Concepts Limited

Group Lotus plc

John Innes Centre

John Wood Group plc

Joseph King Group

The Kilverstone Trust

Land Registry


Midwich Limited

Norwich City Football Club plc

Norwich Preservation Trust

Norwich School

Nurse Plus & Carer Plus (UK) Limited

Oasis Dental Care Limited

Ortona Group

Quadram Institute

Randall & Quilter Investments Limited

Repton Developments Limited (owned by Norfolk County Council)

Serruys Property Company Limited

Southwold Town Council

St Edmunds Society

Timewell Properties Limited

The Forum Trust

University of East Anglia

University of Suffolk

Upton Trust (Red Lodge, Suffolk)

WR & PJ Tann

Work highlights

  • Acting for a consortium of landowners in Norfolk on a landowners agreement, cross-options and promotion and option agreement with a master developer which is also to be the housebuilder for 50% of the site.
  • Instructed by a developer group in respect of their emerging site work, which comprises promotion and option agreements with various landowners (in the absence of a consortium agreement), which seek to achieve consistent objectives across all landowners, equalisation as to value, use, proceeds and costs, with tranche drawdown and synchronised approvals in the promotion agreements and in some cases with the option of the landowners participating by way of a joint venture entity.
  • Instructed on the St James development site which is split into two zones and under the current masterplan, once fully developed, will comprise nine large multi-storey/occupant commercial units, 400 residential units, gym, hotel, riverside walk, footbridge and parking.
  • Acting in a £31m corporate acquisition involving the purchase of shares to secure an underlying property investment portfolio comprising 15 operating fuel filling stations and five ancillary residential properties.
  • The negotiation of a development agreement for lease, lease, full suite of building warranties and appointments and a licence for alterations for T K Maxx lifestyle store.

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors has a 'very knowledgeable, pragmatic and highly efficient' commercial property practice. The firm climbs the table having expanded its practice with the recruitment of junior lawyers to deal with a growing workload for new practice head Sarah Garlish, who joined from Hatch Brenner LLP. Consultant Hugh Berridge and lead corporate partner Jade Tinney also play key roles in the practice, which acts for businesses, individuals and charities in the full spectrum of property matters.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Garlish

Other key lawyers:

Hugh Berridge; Jade Tinney; Jack Shreeve


In early 2019, Fosters recruited Paul Oldershaw from Palmers in Essex as its new head of commercial property; he has extensive experience in the Norwich market from his time with Leathes Prior. Oldershaw handles development work and landlord and tenant matters in sectors such as retail and healthcare. Rachel Appleton has 18 years' experience and plays a central role in the practice. In 2018, her work included high-value deals in the franchise sector and major residential development projects.

Practice head(s):

Paul Oldershaw

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Appleton


“We primarily deal with Rachel Appleton and have developed a very good working relationship. Rachel is always very professional and approachable.”

Spire Solicitors LLP

Spire Solicitors LLP has a large commercial property team operating across its office network in Norfolk. It is led from Attleborough by Colin Wright but the Norwich office houses newly recruited partner Protima Sikdar-Wood who joined from Morrisons Solicitors LLP in London. Her practice encompasses secured lending, investment transactions, development projects and property transactions for charity clients. Partner Tim Chiverton is noted for landlord and tenant matters. Solicitor Benedict Keane is vastly experienced in property matters, notably for clients in the licensed trade.

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal joins the ranking this year having formed its commercial property practice in Norwich in early 2019. The firm hired Sally Challinor from an independent legal consultancy but she was formerly a director at Howes Percival LLP. The practice has quickly generated a flow of local work including a large lease deal in the sports and leisure sector and the sale of land to a major retail chain. One client praises the firm's 'clear and concise thinking and balanced views on complex technical and business issues, and its knowledgeable and understanding approach'.

Practice head(s):

Sally Challinor

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Harnett; Hannah Arnold


“The knowledge shown by each member of staff on their given subject is excellent. It has been incredibly important to build up a good working relationship with key members of staff and to see that the different teams work exceptionally well together.”

“All members of staff have provided a fast and efficient service.”

“The firm has excellent knowledge in a fast moving and technically advanced sector.”

Rogers and Norton

Rogers and Norton has a growing caseload of development work, notably in projects converting former commercial space in Norwich to residential use. Practice head Bruce Faulkner recently handled the £3.9m acquisition of a large nightclub for conversion to apartments, and the £1.2m acquisition of a hotel for conversion into residential units. Richard Etheridge, who frequently handles property matters for GP surgeries, also plays a role in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Bruce Faulkner

Other key lawyers:

Richard Etheridge; Michele Walters; Kerry Dilks; Yvonne Benner

Work highlights

  • Joint venture agreement for development of property and the purchase of a large nightclub for conversion to apartments.
  • The purchase of a hotel for conversion to apartments.

Steeles Law

The commercial property group at Steeles Law is led from London but the Norwich office plays a pivotal role in a practice that acts for developers, investors, landlords, tenants and landowners, in sectors such as retail, commercial and residential development, charities, education and agriculture. In Norwich, Simon Button, who was previously head of commercial property at Fosters, joined the practice in 2018. Button's broad caseload includes work for multi-academy trusts and McDonald’s franchisees.

Practice head(s):

Michael Fahy

Other key lawyers:

Simon Button; Lisha Gorsia


“The team is very knowledgeable and always very helpful and attentive to your needs.”

“I found them a joy to be dealing with and highly recommend them to other people.”

“Lisha Gorsia is very helpful. She has no arrogance or self-importance.”

Key clients

Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy

Secker & Sons (Norwich) Limited

Consortium Multi-Academy Trust

Rightforsuccess Trust

Longfield Hall Trust Limited

Blofield Nurseries Limited

H Irwin Limited

W B A Gaze & Son

The Castle Partnership

Equitix Holdings Limited