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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > East Anglia > Real estate > Environment & planning > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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Index of tables

  1. Environment & planning
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners
  4. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1

Rising stars

  1. 1

Birketts LLP undertakes large-scale projects across East Anglia and the Thames Gateway region for both both the private and public sector clients, among which are minerals and waste companies, local authorities, Parish Councils, strategic developers and numerous regional and national housebuilders. Tom Newcombe in Cambridge leads the practice, in which Ipswich-based Richard Eaton and barristers Laura Thomas and Matthew Gowen handle contentious environmental matters. The recruitment of legal directors Kali Yau from DAC Beachcroft LLP and Rosalind Nuttall from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP further extends the firm's capacity in planning reviews and applications, and large scale mixed-use and residential developments for developers and landowners.

Practice head(s):Tom Newcombe; Richard Eaton

Other key lawyers:Laura Thomas; Matthew Gowen; Kali Yau; Rosalind Nuttall; Nicola Doole; Chloe Glason

Testimonials

"Tom Newcombe is an excellent lawyer. He instructed me in a complicated and highly topical judicial review challenge to a grant of planning permission, which we won in the High Court and is shortly to be heard in the Court of Appeal. He is extremely organised and can quickly get to the heart of complicated legal matters."

Key Clients

Hopkins Homes

Countryside Properties UK Limited

Enterprise Property Group

Crest Nicholson (Eastern)

Hill Residential

Persimmon

Generator Group

Tarmac

Babergh District Council

Mid Suffolk District Council

Notcutts Limited

Grovemere

GTC

NFC Homes

London Trocadero LLP

Chater Homes

Churchmanor Estates

Mersea Homes

AJ Lee Developments

Air Studios

Strongroom Studios

Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Orwell Homes Limited

Pigeon Investment management

Work highlights

  • Acting for the lead developers in the regeneration of Beam Park - the former Ford Factory Site at Dagenham.
  • Acting for the lead developers in the development of Ipswich Garden Suburb.
  • Acting for the lead developers in the regeneration of Rochester Riverside.
  • Acting for Hopkins Homes in relation to planning matters on sites across East Anglia.
  • Represented client in a successful judicial review of a decision of East Herts DC as local planning authority.

Hewitsons in Cambridge handles large-scale development projects, including residential and mixed-use urban expansions, and acts for Homes England in substantial regeneration projects. The firm regularly undertakes work in connection with judicial reviews and other legal challenges in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal, and it undertakes its own advocacy at public inquiries, hearings and in Magistrates Courts. Leading light Deborah Sharples is the key partner and has a large client base of landowners, farmers, investment owners and landed estates across the UK. Associate Gemma Dudley has more than 15 years' experience in planning and compulsory purchase matters.

Practice head(s):Deborah Sharples

Other key lawyers:Gemma Dudley; Emma Bowman

Testimonials

"Hewitsons is an impressive practice - client-focused, efficient and effective. The firm punches well above its weight."

"Deborah Sharples is a pleasure to work with - quick to respond, diligent, reliable and meticulous in her attention to detail."

"The firm is excellent all round. The work is always to a very high standard and within deadlines. The lawyers understand developers' needs and perspective and give well researched, practical, clear and insightful legal advice."

"Excellent value for money - market-leading advice without market-leading rates."

"Excellent in-depth knowledge of planning law and practice from a highly commercial firm."

"Fantastic value for money - the firm provides first-class advice at a fraction of the cost of London and bigger firms."

"Gemma Dudley provides excellent advice on all matters. She is an exceptional planning lawyer with impressive knowledge of legislation, case law and its implications."

"Clear, thoughtful advice which delivers practical solutions to often complex issues. The advice is always presented logically and clearly."

"Gemma Dudley is quick to grasp the issues and always sees the bigger picture. First-class and always first choice. The best planning advice in Cambridge."

"Emma Bowman is very bright and capable and is flourishing under Gemma Dudley's guidance."

"My experiences of Hewitsons is of an engaging and welcoming law firm that is always happy to assist. The planning team is highly professional and consistently provides prompt and well-considered advice. The advice provided is rarely ambiguous."

"Gemma Dudley and Deborah Sharples are highly competent and, of equal importance, friendly and approachable."

"Gemma Dudley has established working experience and relationships with equivalent local authority practitioners and the value of this cannot be under estimated when seeking to expedite a legal agreement with such parties."

"The firm provides a very high level of client care and great attention to detail."

"Deborah Sharples is friendly and a good team player with high professional standards and in-depth knowledge."

"The practice has a broad yet comprehensive range of expertise, and I appreciate Deborah Sharples' dedication and commitment, communicating openly and honestly and working in partnership with the client."

Key Clients

Homes England

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The Greensand Trust

Andersons Assets Ltd

Beyond Storage Leicester Limited

Dene Homes Ltd

Duxford Developments Ltd

Girton College, Cambridge

Downing College, Cambridge

Pembroke College, Cambridge

Fitzwilliam College Cambridge

Henry Fairley and Sons Limited

JCAM Commercial Real Estate Property VII Limited

Gibson Developments Ltd

Great Oakley Farms Ltd

Galliers Homes Limited

Campbell Melhuish and Buchanan Ltd

James Davenport

Bedstone Growers

Bedfordia Farms Limited

GCR Camprop Eight Ltd

Hill Residential Limited

Howard Group Limited

Oastlodge Limited

Arndale Properties Limited

Flogas Britain Limited

Foster Property Developments Limited

Hay Farms Ltd

Work highlights

  • General advice in relation to the proposed multimillion-pound development of a former military site for housing led mixed-use and ecological mitigation.
  • Negotiation of Section 106 Agreement for a multimillion-pound development of 527 houses in the green belt.
  • Successfully acting as advocate at the public inquiry in relation to a planning application for 30 houses & negotiation of s106 Agreement.
  • Drafting and negotiating a s106 Agreement for a development of 227 dwellings in Wisbech.
  • Advising and representing a poultry farmer who was served with an abatement notice alleging a fly nuisance from his poultry houses.

Howes Percival LLP in Norwich is regularly instructed to act in the negotiation of complex planning obligations and, in 2018, these included a number of planning obligations related to substantial urban extensions, as well as numerous successful planning appeals. Paul Wootton leads the planning practice and is also head of the firm's development sector group. He primarily advises on large-scale residential development schemes. Newly promoted director Jay Mehta frequently assists developers, promoters and local planning authorities with the defence of judicial review challenges. The environmental practice is led form Leicester but solicitor Phillippa Summerlee in Norwich handles contentious matters.

Practice head(s):Paul Wootton

Other key lawyers:Jay Mehta; Jamie Childs

Testimonials

"The firm has first-rate understanding of planning law and practice combined with a commercial approach and very high standards of client care."

"Jay Mehta has high standards of client care and willingness to provide advice in a timely manner. He has excellent knowledge of planning case law and practice, which he combines with a high level of commercial understanding and professional approach."

"A commercially astute team of leading lawyers in their field, which has a unique ability of interpreting the law, whilst understanding the commercial objectives of a project in its application."

"The firm provides proactive and pragmatic advice when you most need it during the various stages of the planning process."

"A critical friend, often an integral part of our project teams. The Howes Percival planning team seriously punches above its weight when compared to many other practices."

"Paul Wootton is an outstanding lawyer in his field - approachable, pragmatic and well respected in the market place. Jay Mehta is a shining star."

Key Clients

Persimmon Homes

Bloor Homes

Pigeon Group

Endurance Estates

Turnstone

Bovis Homes

Breckland District Council

This Land Limited

East Cambs Trading Co Limited T/A Palace Green Homes

Big Sky Developments Limited

ESCO Ltd

Anglia Maltings (Holdings) Limited

Fleur Developments Limited

CK Properties Developments Limited

Ford Retail Limited

Work highlights

  • Providing strategic and on-going planning law advice to Breckland District Council in connection with a sustainable urban extension of 4,000 dwellings.
  • Howes Percival continue to be chosen by the Persimmon regions operating in the area to advise on a number of complicated development projects.
  • Howes Percival continues to support Pigeon Group on major development projects throughout the eastern region.
  • Howes Percival continues to be Endurance Estate’s planning law advisors of choice in connection with the promotion of a range of large-scale residential development projects.
  • Howes Percival are advising on This Land Ltd’s flagship development project of 650 units at Burwell and are providing planning law advice on a range of other development projects.

The Cambridge office of Mills & Reeve LLP handles substantial and high-profile national and, increasingly, international projects for investors, institutional and local authority funds, national developers, strategic land owners, major corporates, and education and healthcare providers. Peter Seaborn, who handles the promotion of high-profile projects, and Beverley Firth, who has a national reputation for her work on new settlements and strategic land, are the lead partners. They lead a deep bench of talent that includes principal associate Caroline Bywater, who joined from RPC in 2018; senior associates Howard Felstead and Saskia Molekamp who handle residential development and estates matters; and rising star associate Jack Barnes Robinson.

Practice head(s):Peter Seaborn

Other key lawyers:Beverley Firth; Caroline Bywater; Howard Felstead; Saskia Molekamp; Jack Barnes Robinson

Key Clients

Urban&Civic

Countryside Properties

O&H Group

Marshall Group Properties Ltd

Brookgate

University of Cambridge

Trinity College

Taylor Wimpey

South Kesteven District Council

Dunsfold Airport Ltd

Work highlights

  • We are advising the promoters on the promotion of an urban extension to Cambridge comprising 1,200 dwellings and other commercial and community uses.
  • We are advising on the promotion of Dunsfold Park, a new settlement in Surrey, which included helping the client defend the grant of planning permission in the High Court in light of third party challenges.
  • Our client has been selected by the MOD to be the developer of its land holdings on this new settlement, which will bring forward approximately 11,000 homes for the Cambridge area.
  • We are advising Trinity College on major redevelopment proposals to the Cambridge Science Park comprising the permission of new office accommodation.
  • We are advising on the promotion of a residential led 2,300 unit urban extension to St Neots.

'The firm demonstrates a winning combination of expert knowledge with practical application to complex situations', remarks a client of Ashtons Legal. Consultant Bob McGeady no longer resides in the region but is a vital part of the planning team led by Cambridge-based partner Amy Richardson who joined from Howes Percival LLP in 2018. The firm frequently acts for local authorities, local residents, Parish Councils, developers and private landowners in matters including planning appeals and inquiries, planning agreements and applications, Certificates of Lawfulness, judicial reviews, affordable housing requirements and environmental impact assessments.

Practice head(s):Bob McGeady; Amy Richardson

Testimonials

"Even the most urgent requests are responded to with characteristic efficiency and effectiveness. Ashtons Legal stands out for its expertise and depth of knowledge."

"Bob McGeady has an encyclopaedic knowledge of planning and property law - he stands out for his expertise both in negotiations and contentious disputes."

"Ashtons Legal has successfully dealt with two of three planning issues relating to one of my neighbours. The office is friendly, efficient and has truly dedicated staff."

"Excellent support is provided to its consultant Bob McGeady. Ashtons Legal's expertise is comprehensive and it has specialists in a vast array of fields."

"I have used Ashtons Legal for many years and in its handling of the planning issues with my neighbour, I consider it to be outstanding."

"I am indebted to Bob McGeady. I am a layman to planning, but Bob has guided me through its intricate maze. Without him I shudder at the thought of where I would have been. He has worked in local government and understands how it works."

"Bob McGeady's knowledge is deep. He is tenacious. He is extremely interested in his subject and obviously derives much satisfaction from it. He has frequently corrected my local authority planning department on information it has given out and related conclusions it has reached."

"Bob McGeady's communication style is clear and to the point and on many occasions he has allayed my worries and fears. He is brilliant and a huge credit to Ashtons Legal."

Key Clients

Ryedale District Council

Norfolk Land Developments

Arbora Homes

MS OAKES Limited

Brandon Town Council

Spixworth Parish Council

Jonathan Green

Lisa Mc Alpine

Godbold Turner Partnership

Godolphin Management Company Limited

E W Pepper Limited

Cambridge Housing Society Limited

Work highlights

  • Following the departure of the council’s planning lawyer, we were approached to take on all their section 106 agreement and advisory work arising therefrom.
  • This matter began as a standard section 106 agreement and rapidly developed into a complex matter and in particular how the local authority should go about its decision-making.
  • Ashtons Legal currently does all the work for Arbora on section 106 agreements.
  • An appeal against refusal of planning permission followed by a public inquiry.
  • Ashtons Legal has been providing advice and support to a Town Council on the procurement and development of a new cemetery.

The regulatory practice at Greenwoods GRM advises national companies, property developers, SMEs and private individuals on environmental compliance matters. Lead partner Kathryn Gilbertson is a committee member for the Eastern Region of the UK Environmental Lawyers Association (UKELA), and has an outstanding reputation for regulatory and business defence matters nationwide. The firm's work covers the full range of matters from noise complaints to the handling and disposal of hazardous chemicals.

Practice head(s):Kathryn Gilbertson

Key Clients

Dacorum Council

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service

Principal Hayley Hotels

McColl’s Retail Group PLC

Vivacity

Crown Golf

Gerda Security

Camelot

Unite Students

Work highlights

  • Providing advice and assistance following a series of noise complaints.
  • Advice and guidance on the interpretation of the various Asbestos Regulations and how these impact on the recycling of plasterboard.

Andrew Bryce & Co in Cambridge has a well-established reputation as a high-quality environmental law practice that focuses on environmental, planning and health and safety issues in the waste, oil and gas, nuclear and industrial sectors. Name partner Andrew Bryce, who was a founder member of the UK Environmental Law Association and remains an honorary life member, has specialised in this area since the early 1980s.

Practice head(s):Andrew Bryce

The planning practice at Buckles Solicitors LLP works closely with the firm's commercial property and construction groups to provide a one-stop service for project development. Led by senior solicitor Brendon Lee, the practice has a strong social housing focus and works with numerous registered providers, including Longhurst Group Limited and North Hertfordshire Homes Limited. Its work includes pre-judicial planning work for both applicants and objectors, judicial and statutory reviews, compulsory acquisitions, restrictive covenants advice and environmental law.

Practice head(s):Brendon Lee

Other key lawyers:Lauren Godfrey

Key Clients

North Hertfordshire Homes Limited

Longhurst Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising the housing association on the planning application, including (in particular) the section 106 agreement and highway access issues.
  • Advising the housing association on the planning application including, (in particular) the section 106 agreement, section 104 agreement and the section 38/278 agreement.

At niche environmental and public law practice Richard Buxton in Cambridge, name partner and solicitor advocate Richard Buxton has nearly 30 years' experience and his track record includes establishing basic principles relating to the classification of Special Protection Areas for birds, and proving the unlawfulness of the government's regulation of night flying at Heathrow airport.

Practice head(s):Richard Buxton

Other key lawyers:Paul Stookes; Adrienne Copithorne; Lisa Foster; Caroline Chilvers

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