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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 > Planning > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Planning
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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‘Excellent in every aspect’, Birketts LLP handles the full spectrum of planning matters for a broad client base that includes private and public sector businesses such as minerals and waste companies Tarmac and Lafarge; local authorities such as Cambridge City Council and Breckland District Council; strategic developers such as Countryside Developments and Enterprise Property Group; and a host of regional and national housebuilders. Tom Newcombe leads the team and is ‘a particularly strong asset; a can-do lawyer who has an extensive track record in complicated projects requiring specialist expertise’. Consultant Philip Kratz ‘has the magic touch; his knowledge and level of service are excellent’. Clients also recommend property litigator Richard Eaton and senior associate Sue Chadwick. The firm’s recent work includes advising Plaistow and Ifold Parish Council and Kirdford Parish Council on a potential judicial review of a retrospective grant of planning permission for an anaerobic digester, which involved points relating to the lawful use of the site and importation of waste. The firm also acted for Hopkins Homes and Hopkins & Moore (Developments) on section 106 agreements, deeds of variation, highways issues, affordable housing and community infrastructure matters in relation to numerous sites in East Anglia.

Hewitsons provides ‘market-leading advice without market-leading rates’ according to clients, who consider it to be ‘excellent all round; the work is of a very high standard and always within deadlines’. The firm is known for acting on large-scale development projects including residential and mixed-use urban expansions, and regularly advises the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) on large regeneration projects. The firm ‘understands the needs and perspective of developers and always gives well-researched, practical, clear and insightful advice’. Department head Deborah Sharples ‘has outstanding knowledge and experience in her subject area; she is an excellent team player with an eye for detail and a commitment to finding solutions’. Senior associate Gemma Dudley is ‘an exceptional planning lawyer with excellent knowledge of case law and legislation’ and provides ‘clear and thoughtful advice that leads to practical solutions to complex issues’. In one ongoing contentious matter the team is acting in proceedings at the Court of Appeal for Dunnett Investments, which was seeking to convert an office building in Dorset into residential accommodation under permitted development rights. The property is subject to a planning condition that prohibits change of use without express planning consent from the local authority and the High Court held that this required an express grant of planning permission. Sharples is advising the HCA on the development of Lodge Hill Camp in Kent for up to 5,000 new homes.

Howes Percival LLP ‘compares very well with all firms outside London’. Paul Wootton leads the team from Norwich and is ‘simply an extremely good planning lawyer’. The firm is best known for its work on large development projects, often for prominent clients such as Orbit Housing Group, Bloor Homes and Turnstone Estates. Specialist planning lawyer Amy Richardson continues to build the Cambridge office’s profile in residential development, social housing, equine development, agricultural and diversification projects, and commercial and leisure developments. Associate Jay Mehta ‘has excellent judgement, very good attention to detail and always provides good written work’. He counts Bovis Homes and Anglia Maltings among his clients and regularly acts in high-profile judicial review cases in the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Solicitor Jamie Childs is also building a good reputation for supporting challenges to judicial reviews, which included significant victories in the Supreme Court. He regularly acts for housebuilders such as Persimmon Homes. One recent transaction saw the firm represent a consortium of investors in a large mixed-use development in London that includes more than 500 homes and a significant retail offering. In another deal Mehta advised a large housebuilder on the development of a large residential project on the south coast.

Mills & Reeve LLP is a national player in the real estate development sector and acts not only on some of the most significant projects in East Anglia, but also elsewhere in the UK and abroad. The firm has a strong reputation among investors, national developers, strategic landowners, major corporates, and education and healthcare providers. Peter Seaborn leads the planning team and specialises in complex planning and compulsory purchase projects involving residential strategic land schemes, new settlements, urban extensions, and town centre regeneration projects. The ‘very highly rated’ Beverley Firth, who leads the firm’s real estate practice and is a partner in the planning team, handles large-scale residential development and mixed-use schemes and for clients such as Urban&Civic, which she is advising on its appointment by the Ministry of Defence to be the developer of its land holdings at new settlement Waterbeach New Community. This project will create 9,000 homes in the Cambridge area. She is also advising the company on planning matters for new communities at Alconbury Weald and Radio Station Rugby. Senior associate Saskia Molekamp is a rising star and regularly acts on planning matters for landowners including Cambridge colleges. In another highlight, the team acted for Marshall Group Properties on a 1300-home urban expansion project near Cambridge Airport, which will include car dealerships, a primary school, retail outlets and community and commercial facilities.

Ashtons Legal provides ‘excellent service and really fights its client’s corner’. Its team consists of two highly experienced consultants who have previously worked at local authorities and understand planning applications from both perspectives. The firm acts for local authorities, residents, developers and landowners on all aspects of planning and related highways matters, from applications to appeals. The ‘consistently reliable’ Bob McGeady is praised for his ‘up-to-date knowledge deployed with assurance and a canny sense of the commercial implications’. McGeady is ‘a star in the firmament of planning lawyers; his previous experience with local planning authorities means he is exceptionally well placed to deliver what clients need in complex negotiations and contentious disputes’. McGeady and Paul Harris advised M S Oakes Limited on handling objections to a planning application and the promotion of site through the local development framework process. The team is now pursuing an appeal following the rejection of the application. Other highlights included a judicial review of a client’s basement development project in London, and acting for Swishbrook Limited on its objection to a compulsory purchase order related to the redevelopment of Brent Cross shopping centre.

Buckles Solicitors LLP’s planning team is known for providing a personal service for clients involved in urban and rural developments across East Anglia. The firm’s strong focus on social housing sees it work for many registered providers on affordable housing planning issues. The team also handles a growing number of private residential development matters. Solicitor Brendon Lee’s recent work includes a judicial review of planning permission granted by Stratford-on-Avon District Council for the development of land neighbouring a client’s property; acting for a private landowner in the judicial review of planning permission from Rutland County Council for a residential extension; and acting for the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply in an alleged breach of planning control by East Northamptonshire District Council in regard to a car park extension at the client’s head office in Easton-on-the-Hill.

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Legal Developments in East Anglia for Planning

  • New ‘ROE Bill’ draft published

    Following from the recent public outcry regarding the lack of ‘transparency’ in the UK property market, a new ‘ROE Bill’ draft has now been published.
    - Hudson McKenzie

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