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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. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

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Birketts LLP has a deep bench of planning lawyers who handle every aspect of contentious and non-contentious work for clients across East Anglia and the Thames Gateway region, including major infrastructure projects. Its diverse client base of public and private sector enterprises includes Tarmac, Lafarge and Longwater Gravel, Cambridge City Council, Mid Suffolk District Council, Babergh District Council, strategic developers such as Countryside Developments and Enterprise Property Group Limited, and regional and national housebuilders including Hopkins, Countryside, and Persimmon. Tom Newcombe leads the practice from Cambridge. He recently acted for Countryside Properties in the high-profile redevelopment of Beam Park Dagenham, which will include 2,900 homes, two schools and a new railway station. Senior associate Sue Chadwick played a key role in that project. The same team also advised Countryside on the Rochester Riverside project, which will include 1,500 new residences. Consultant Philip Kratz and property litigator Richard Eaton are also recommended. The Cambridge office welcomed two new lawyers in legal director Simon Kelly, formerly an associate at DAC Beachcroft LLP, and Edward Long , who was previously an associate at Hogan Lovells International LLP.

The practice at¬†Hewitsons¬†is 'very good ‚Äď helpful, diligent and practical'. The firm is known for 'comprehensive advice and, importantly, firm recommendations as opposed to just a list of options' and one client remarks that 'work is always done to a very high standard and the team understands developers' needs and perspectives and gives well researched, practical, clear and insightful legal advice'. That work includes¬†large-scale development projects, including residential and mixed use urban expansions, and the firm acts for¬†Homes England in substantial regeneration projects.¬†Leading light Deborah Sharples¬†(who delivers 'fresh thinking and sensible advice')¬†and 'pragmatic and professional' senior associate¬†Gemma Dudley¬†are 'client-friendly and have good attention to detail'. 'Her knowledge under scrutiny is to be applauded,' says a client of Dudley who is 'an exceptional planning lawyer with excellent in-depth knowledge of legislation, case law, its implications and practical application; she provides clear, thoughtful advice which delivers practical solutions to complex issues'. The practice's recent highlights include advising Homes England on the proposed development of a 330-hectare former military site at Lodge Hill Camp in Kent to create 2,000 new homes. Another matter involved advising trustees of a landowner on¬†a Section 106 agreement relating to a development of 279 houses and serviced land for a primary school in which provisions are to be made for affordable housing, financial payments, children‚Äôs outdoor play space, the school, fire hydrants and a travel plan.

Howes Percival LLP¬†provides ‚Äėan excellent level of service in all areas‚Äė. For one client the firm is ‚Äėthe top-rated planning law firm in East Anglia ‚Äď the service is first-rate, they are proactive¬†in advising on planning matters, emerging legislation and case law, and the team has a high level of expertise and commerciality‚Äė. 'For top-quality, high-value planning work and very contentious and intellectually complicated Judicial Reviews, the firm is first-rate, always legally well informed, but providing commercial, sensible and practical advice to boot', remarks another.¬†Paul Wootton, whose specialisms include compulsory purchase matters and strategic planning advice, leads the practice from Norwich. 'Very bright and tenacious' associate¬†Jay Mehta, who is regularly involved in judicial reviews and statutory challenges, ‚Äėoffers a personal, tailored service with the backup of a large practice'. Wootton and Mehta advised¬†Breckland District Council on a sustainable urban development project comprising 4,000 homes and a link road to Norwich. Solicitor Jamie Childs¬†also receives plaudits for his work on s106 agreements and challenges to judicial reviews. Persimmon Homes and Pigeon Group are also among the firm's clients.¬†Planning specialist Ashtons Legal¬†moved to Ashtons Legal.

Mills & Reeve LLP is 'not just cost-efficient compared to London firms, it operates at the same level in terms of quality'. The firm is among the leading national firms for real estate development work, and its work includes not only on some of the largest projects in East Anglia, but also major projects across the UK and overseas. The vasty experienced Peter Seaborn is head of the planning department and he specialises in the promotion of complex planning and compulsory purchase projects including residential led strategic land schemes, new settlements, urban extensions and town centre regeneration projects. He advised Marshall Group Properties on the promotion of an urban extension to Cambridge that comprises 1,200 new homes, as well as commercial and community developments. Senior associate Howard Felstead played a key role in that deal. Head of the firm's real estate group Beverley Firth is 'an exceptional lawyer, technically sound, incredibly proficient and persuasive; she is able to find solutions that work for everyone', according to one client who adds that 'she is the best planning lawyer I have ever come across'. She worked with Seaborn to advise South Kesteven District Council on the determination of a significant retail planning application for a designer outlet village near Grantham. She also assisted Urban&Civic with its 9,000-home Waterbeach development built on land owned by the Ministry of Defence. The firm's stellar team includes senior associate Saskia Molekamp and associate Jack Robinson.

Ashtons Legal¬†is 'exemplary ‚Äď the team has complete all-rounders whether acting for developers or public authorities, and their¬†in-depth knowledge of the workings of all sides of the planning profession means that they are exceptionally well-placed to plot their way through any obstacle course'. The practice handles large and small-scale developments for planning authorities, landowners, objectors and also developers, which includes planning appeals and inquiries, planning agreements and highways agreements, affordable housing requirements and environmental impact assessments.¬†Consultant and 'exceptional planning lawyer'¬†Bob McGeady¬†has 'a sure instinct for the killer point and is a recognised expert;¬† his¬†knowledge and understanding of planning law are second to none'. The firm recently hired planning specialist¬†Amy Richardson¬†from Howes Percival LLP, who is¬†highly regarded for planning prosecution and s106 agreement work for local authorities. The firm recently advised Scott Properties Limited on a successful planning appeal that¬†forced a local council to change its approach to affordable housing. It also acted for developers¬†Bennett Homes, Persimmon Homes, Norfolk Homes and Abel Homes in a challenge to charges that South Norfolk Council was proposing to introduce.

Buckles Solicitors LLP in Peterborough is 'excellent, the standard was easily to up to that of Magic and Silver circle firms'. The firm has a small planning team that nevertheless attracts high-quality work on urban and rural projects from across the East Anglian region. Senior solicitor Brendon Lee, who leads the practice and works closely with the commercial property and construction and engineering teams, is 'a star in the making'. He regularly acts for individuals, developers, lenders, public sector bodies and utilities on the full range of planning matters. One recent highlight saw Lee work with commercial property partner Michael Blank on the drafting and negotiation of s106 agreements for a social housing developer. The same team also advised another developer of affordable housing on planning matters. Lee's own caseload included securing a large sum in compensation for a client who objected to a Transport and Works Act Order.

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