Commercial property: Nottingham and Derby in East Midlands

Browne Jacobson LLP

Sitting as one of the standout practices in the region, Browne Jacobson LLP advises commercial tenants, housing groups and public authorities on all areas of the real estate market. Much of the firm's recent work related to the pandemic and included providing crisis management services to retail clients and establishing new depots for logistics client DPD. Another notable highlight of 2020 for the firm was its work with PureGym; practice head Sarah Parkinson collaborated with the corporate team to advise on the acquisition of Danish company Fitness World. Barry Sully leads the development and housing team and advises on significant projects located in Nottingham and across the country.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Parkinson

Other key lawyers:

Barry Sully; Robert Wofinden; Suki Tonks; Gabor Taller

Key clients

LVMH – Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton

Walgreens Boots Alliance (“Boots”)

Platform Housing

Wilko Retail


Paperchase Products


Westerman Homes

Aggregate Industries UK Ltd

Homes England

Work highlights

  • Advised PureGym on its £350m acquisition of the Fitness World chain based in Denmark.
  • Advising Chesterfield Borough Council on the acquisition of part of Basin Square.
  • Advised Miller Birch on the acquisition, redevelopment and disposal of the historic Guildhall complex in Nottingham city centre.

Freeths LLP

Freeths LLP's real estate practice spans site acquisitions, planning issues, portfolio management work and commercial and residential developments.  The bulk of the team is based in Nottingham and includes a notable number of specialist partners: Jon Smart is a specialist in the care sector who also advises on outlet shopping development projects; Darren Williamson handles portfolio transfers; and practice head Guy Winfield focuses on developments. The group also has a Derby presence, primarily through Janet Rhodes, who acts as the office's managing partner.  James Clamp departed in January 2021 to take up an in-house role, while residential development and social housing specialist Matthew Grocock joined gunnercooke LLP in late 2020.

Practice head(s):

Guy Winfield; Janet Rhodes

Other key lawyers:

Darren Williamson; Jon Smart; James Clamp


‘The team work extremely well together and collaborate effectively without the ‘project management’ that sometimes has to be deployed with other firms.’

‘The team at Freeths are very easy to work with and manage to translate sometimes very technical legal documents into quite simple easy to understand terms. This together with a drive to push deals forwards helps us meet our business objectives.’

‘The team at Freeths are easy to contact and make their clients feel important to them and their business.’

‘Great local presence and strong knowledge of our industry and their discipline (property). Personable and accessible team who always look to assist on all matters. Open culture which breeds confidence in their communication internally.’

‘This practice brings the dual benefits of feeling like a friendly family firm while still being a big professional operation. Best of both worlds. They go the extra mile and operate in an agile way to meet with their clients bespoke needs.’

Key clients


Waterfield Group

Carlsberg Breweries

Travis Perkins

EG Group

Harworth Group


Maria Mallaband Care Group

BDW Trading

Redwood Bank


Peveril Homes

Deichmann Shoes

Keepmoat Homes Limited

Bellway Homes

EM Lawshare

Work highlights

  • Advising Scotch Corner Designer Village in relation to the development of a designer outlet shopping centre.
  • Advising Carlsberg on its £780m deal with Marston’s plc to form a new joint venture beer company in the UK, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC).
  • Advised Euro Garages Limited on the £135m acquisition of the largest KFC franchise in the UK.

Gateley Plc

Gateley Plc's Nottingham office provides the complete range of real estate advice, and is as comfortable assisting commercial landlords with leasehold portfolios as it advising on high-value disposals and acquisitions. The group is particularly active in the healthcare space; practice head Adam Youatt is regularly consulted by developers to assist with projects relating to specialist medical centres, and also assists GP practices. The residential development team is headed up by Steven Plummer, who advises large housebuilders including Avant Homes on all elements of housing projects, including funding arrangements.

Practice head(s):

Adam Youatt; Steven Plummer

Other key lawyers:

Elly Duggins; Charlotte Chapman; Tertia Werry; Alexandra Smith

Key clients

Custodian REIT plc

Fresenius Medical Care Renal Services

Bildurn Properties

DSL Group

The Church Commissioners for England

Soho Sandwich Company

Harworth Group Plc

Avant Homes

Peter James Homes Limited

Sygnature Discovery Limited

Guildhall Estates Limited

DHP Family

Work highlights

  • Advised the DSL Group on the renewal of two leases for the Apex Court buildings in Nottingham.
  • Advised Custodian REIT plc on the acquisition and forward funding of a Starbucks drive thru development on the outskirts of Nottingham.
  • Acted for Avant Homes on the purchase of a residential development site in Witham St Hughs, Lincolnshire.

Geldards LLP

As one of the few firms with offices in Nottingham and Derby, Geldards LLP has a strong presence in the local market and is often instructed to advise on complex and significant development and regeneration projects in the two cities. The group has close relationships with a number of local authorities, and in 2020 Tiffany Cloynes assisted both Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council on key projects. Cloynes leads the public sector team, while 'excellent communicator' Heather Dixon focuses on commercial and residential development, alongside Nottingham property head David Watson and Derby head Graham Banks. In addition, the practice is highly regarded for its work with network utilities companies; Jamie Gordon leads the team, which provides property services to electricity distributors and gas transporters.

Practice head(s):

Graham Banks; David Watson; Jamie Gordon

Other key lawyers:

Heather Dixon; Tiffany Cloynes


The team are flexible, responsive, problem solvers. They seek to expedite solutions in an effective and efficient manner.

Most of recent work has been undertaken by Heather Dixon. Heather is excellent at her work providing good well considered advice on all property matters. She is very responsive and provides excellent solutions to property legal matters.

The manner in which the team engage with each other and ourselves as clients is first class. It is clear that they are all up to speed with each and every project and know what is expected of each other. The greatest strength is that as the client you are always up to date with all legal matters and are never second guessing as to where projects are at. Also, the implications of each clause within documents are explained and solid commercial advice is always provided.’

Heather Dixon – 100% commitment to getting the deal done in tight timescales.

Personal attention and commitment along with a sense of commercial reality.’

Heather Dixon is very engaged with you as a client and is an excellent communicator. She involves us as a client and provides daily updates. These are mainly done via direct communication which is far better than hiding behind emails. The service is first class and unmatched.’

Key clients

Cedar House Investments Limited

Nottingham College

Trent Motor Traction Company Ltd

Nottingham City Council

North Sands Developments Limited

Heatherton Developments Limited

Sleekmade Property Co Limited

Lycee Charles de Gualle Londres

Bowmer & Kirkland

Walgreens Boots Alliance

Clowes Developments (UK) Limited and Dove Valley Park Limited

Miller Birch/Cedar House

PPH1 Ltd and DPK Management

BioCity Group Limited

Wise Living Developments Limited

Trent Barton Buses

Connections Legal Management

Stadler Rail Service UK Limited

Derby City Council

Leicester City Council

Sheffield City Council

Nottinghamshire County Council

Office Depot Group

Electricity North West

Western Power Distribution

Omya UK Limited

Wacker Neuson Limited

Heart Church/T Land

UK Power Networks

UK Power Distribution

Harlaxton Energy Services

Energy Assets Networks

Easement Solutions

ESP Electricity

E.S. Pipelines

Wellingborough Borough Council

Synergy Health Managed Services

Work highlights

  • Advising Derby City Council on the implementation of a City Centre Regeneration project.
  • Advising various networks utilities companies on high-volume, time-sensitive property solutions.
  • Advising Nottingham College on its acquisition and development of the College’s new “Skills Hub” at Broadmarsh East, Nottingham with a project value in excess of £60m.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP

Shakespeare Martineau LLP advises on the full spectrum of commercial development issues from the initial site acquisitions through to construction matters and the eventual investment sales. Peter Dilks, who leads the national real estate team from Nottingham, is an expert in strategic commercial promotion agreements. The energy sector is one of the firm's niches; in 2020, Dilks, often in collaboration with legal director Rachel Kent, advised on multiple battery storage development projects, both within the local area and nationally. Brendan Walsh departed to join gunnercooke LLP in March 2020.

Practice head(s):

Peter Dilks

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Bovington; Rachel Kent; Hannah Awcock


‘Strong personal connection with clients and understanding of client needs.’

‘The commercial real estate department have excellent lawyers. Having worked in private practice I know and appreciate good legal support and advice and both are exceptionally delivered. I also value the fee transparency and willingness to work with us to align with our commercial considerations depending on the work in question. Great work ethic and very approachable which adds to the core elements of their legal knowledge and experience.’

‘I think the key element that makes them stand out is their commercial mindset and not just being focused on the legal elements of transactions. This manifests itself in various ways, for example pre-empting commercial points/considerations in negotiations and also having an awareness of the market so we can engage with them on a business and commercial level and not just as legal advisers.’

My main interactions are with Peter Dilks (Partner) and Hannah Awcock (Associate) and both deserve special mention as genuinely stellar lawyers in their sector. Both are able to deliver clear and accurate advice when asked and are available whenever we need to pick up the phone. Peter is very good at this and also is very good at working with us on a commercial level and being sensible with fee flexibility when needed. Hannah is easily the best property associate I have dealt with and is professional, knowledgeable and personable – a certain future partner I would predict.’

‘The Team are extremely competent and deal with every transaction, large or small, expeditiously.’

‘We deal mainly with Peter Dilks and Hannah Awcock, who are both outstanding and like all good professional, give the impression that they have all the time in the world to deal with your matters.’

Key clients

Statera Energy Limited

Last Mile Infrastructure Group

Brackley Properties Developments Limited

Lloyds Bank plc

Cynergy Bank plc

Allied Irish Bank

National Westminster Bank plc

Yorkshire Bank

Shoby Properties Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Last Mile Infrastructure Group on the acquisition of a number of parcels of land.
  • Advised Brackley Property Developments Ltd on a major office development at Pioneer Park in Leicester.
  • Assisted Urban Logistics with a £151m loan facility with Barclays, Santander and Lloyds in respect of a strategic investment property located on Birmingham Great Park.

Shoosmiths LLP

Shoosmiths LLP is one of Nottingham’s standout firms, and is particularly strong when it comes to working with investors. Deborah Gordon Brown is particularly experienced in this regard, and regularly advises prominent property funds on the sale and transfer of property portfolios. Retail is another of the firm’s key areas; practice head Sean Burke advises Ikea on all its real estate matters in the UK, while 2020 saw Ellis Gardener-Browne provide strategic advice to a number of large retailers on the management of real estate portfolios during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Practice head(s):

Sean Burke

Other key lawyers:

Ellis Gardener-Browne; Deborah Gordon Brown; Matthew Kemp; Matthew Kenwood

Key clients

AEW Europe

Arkley Commercial Property

Brunswick Property Partners

Crosstown Concerts Limited

Eel Power Limited

Estee Lauder Cosmetics Limited

Floral Street Fragrances Limited

GPS (Great Britain) Limited (“GAP”)

HSBC UK Bank plc (Petroleum Finance)

IKEA Group of Companies

John Deere Limited

Joules Limited

Leftfield Group

Long Clawson Dairy Limited

Melville Management Corporation (New York)

Mountain Warehouse Limited

Next plc

Nottingham Rowing Club

Old Spot Pub Co Limited

Ollie Quinn Limited

Pizza Hut (UK) Limited

Rutland Cycles

Safestore Group

SGN Group (Petroleum)

Stainton International Limited

Starbridge Limited

Walgreen Boots Alliance Group of Companies

White & Case

Work highlights

  • Advised Stainton International Limited on the sale of Global Reach Business Park.
  • Advised Brunswick Property Partners on the acquisition of significant assets.
  • Advised Leftfield Group on the acquisition and funding of investment assets in the logistics sector.

Flint Bishop LLP

Flint Bishop LLP has a strong presence in the Derby market, and is highly regarded for its experience in development schemes relating to the out-of-town retail, residential and waste management sectors. Ian Beardmore leads the team and frequently works alongside Christine Owen on complex mixed-use projects. Bev Simms and Lucy Carter departed in 2020 to join gunnercooke LLP and Austin Moore & Partners LLP respectively, though the team was bolstered by the arrival from Freeths LLP of Ben Pickup, who adds to the group's development expertise.

Practice head(s):

Ian Beardmore

Other key lawyers:

Christine Owen; Ben Pickup; Stephen McCarthy; Paul Sabin


‘They go out of their way to understand client requirements.’

‘Ian Beardmore, Christine Owen, Ben Pickup. They all offer a first-class service.’

Key clients

Bowmer + Kirkland Group of Companies

Clowes Developments Group of Companies

Ivygrove Developments Limited

MHA (Methodist Homes)

Donald Ward Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Peveril Securities Limited on the completion of a development agreement with Cheshire East Borough Council regarding the redevelopment scheme of Crewe town centre.
  • Acted for Peveril Securities Limited in connection with the sale of a development site at Toton Sidings to Nottinghamshire County Council for £21.1m.

gunnercooke LLP

gunnercooke LLP saw notable growth in 2020, recruiting multiple highly experienced practitioners. Brendan Walsh, having arrived in March 2020 from Shakespeare Martineau LLP, has longstanding experience in all types of development projects, with student accommodation matters being a notable specialism. Matthew Grocock, who joined from Freeths LLP, combines landed estate and agricultural landowner expertise with a strong social housing practice. Bev Simms adds to the group's development expertise, having led Flint Bishop LLP's department prior to her move in May 2020.

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Grocock; Brendan Walsh; Mike Taplin; Bev Simms; Sarah Gunton


‘Matthew Grocock is a first-class and trustworthy property lawyer.’

‘Mike Taplin, Bev Simms. They offer a first class service.’

‘Always available and very hardworking.’

‘The property team at Gunnercooke are a refreshing and focused team that has a can do attitude.’

‘Mike Taplin: Very good understanding of what is required to get a deal done. Vast experience in property matters.’

‘Brendan Walsh and Sarah Gunton work as a seamless department and are both in tune to achieve timely and within budget transactions.’

‘Despite the difficulties brought about by the pandemic, Matthew Grocock was able to provide a seamless and comprehensive service, ably concluding most complex development arrangements.’

Our team at Gunnercooke is Sarah Gunton and Brendan Walsh. We of course, have access to other members as and when we require them however they are the core. The team ,supported by other specialists when needed, support us on all of our student and residential developments, including acquisitions, financing and sales. They are very proactive, thinking ahead on our needs, provide both legal and commercial advice in a timely and cost effective manner. We have recommended to numerous contacts and have had positive feedback.’

Key clients

Wilson Bowden Developments Limited

William Davis Limited

English Will Trust of the Rt Hon Olive Countess Fitzwilliam

Garner Holdings Limited

Milhouse Group

Everards Brewery

Harpur Crewe LLC (US)

Omni /Graystacks Developments

Stanmore Properties Ltd

Zone Developments

Hoyland Developments Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Urban Logistics REIT Plc on the simultaneous acquisition of a portfolio of 4 sites.
  • Representing landowners in the completion of the sale of plots jointly by the English Will Trust and the Wentworth Charity to the developer Newlands.
  • Advising Quora Developments on an acquisition from Wilford Lane Developments Limited.

Landsmiths Solicitors

As a boutique firm focusing on property law, the breadth of Landsmiths Solicitors' practice is particularly noteworthy. The group is most notable for its work with investors, which it advises on site acquisitions and leasehold issues across England. Rachael Briggs and Vik Moothia, who both transferred from Austin Moore & Partners LLP in May 2020, are key practitioners, while Michael Elvin advises on the acquisition of agricultural land and development issues.

Practice head(s):

Rachael Briggs; Vik Moothia

Other key lawyers:

Michael Elvin


‘They are efficient in all their work and always hit deadlines. All work is clearly quoted and we never have any surprise bills. Covid hasn’t negatively impacted on the customer experience.’

‘Rachael Briggs has a very clear understanding of our business and our goals. This makes progressing work a lot easier than working with some who only engages with the legal process and not your actual business.’

‘The team at Landsmiths are extremely efficient, knowledgeable and friendly. They are quick to embrace different technologies especially during the Covid pandemic, they worked throughout and their service was uninterrupted. Having used other firms in London previously, this practice is a breath of fresh air. ‘A great team who provide a great service, with a smile’ would sum up the team.

‘This practice oozes teamwork, flexibility and a general excellent working ethos.’

‘Rachael Briggs is my go to person. She has always been very approachable and supportive. She thinks outside the box and when I have needed information outside her remit, she goes out of her way to find answers. Rachael always makes me feel I am important even when, I am sure, she has lots of other work commitments. It goes without saying, she is also excellent at her job.’

‘A small niche firm, but with the ability to draw on wider knowledge and resources when required. Appreciate the personal approach which is key to delivering effective and relevant services that align with business requirements.’

‘Took the time to understand the pain points involved from our perspective with regards to the transaction that we are doing which could be different each time.’

Key clients

200 Degrees Coffee Shops Limited

Birds (Derby) Limited

Kennelpak Limited

Go Plant Limited

C S Properties (Asset Management) Limited

I H Moore and Company (Holdings) Limited

Instarmac Holdings Limited

Harmony Bridge Limited

DDM Homes Limited

New Urban Enterprises Limited

Rush Hair Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Hobills Limited on the acquisition of approximately 38 acres of agricultural land and related buildings.
  • Advised Foxhall Property Limited on the acquisition of a development site with outline planning permission for up to 46 dwellings.
  • Advised Bricross Developments Limited on the sourcing and acquisition of a site development of 66 purpose-built student accommodation apartments.

Nelsons Solicitors Limited

Nelsons Solicitors Limited's real estate practice is broad in scope, and acts for developers, commercial landlords and other landowners on transactions across a number of sectors. Riaz Dudhia leads the team from Nottingham and is experienced in commercial landlord and tenant matters, while also assisting landowners with sales to developers in the residential and renewable energy space. Pension scheme trustees are also a key component of the group's client base; associate Paul Hinchcliffe in particular advises both national and regional providers on SSIP and SSAS issues.

Practice head(s):

Riaz Dudhia

Other key lawyers:

Paul Hinchcliffe

Work highlights

  • Advised Fletcher and Selders Partnership on the sale of a portfolio of properties at Russell Street and Gamble Street, Nottingham.
  • Advised NG Chartered Surveyors on its office relocation to Wheatcroft Business Park in Nottingham.


Based in Nottingham, Actons is experienced in all areas of commercial property, assisting with purchases as well as landlord and tenant issues. Practice head Amanda Gordon is regularly consulted by GP practices looking to purchase or develop surgery premises, and has also developed a specialism in the relationship between property and insolvency issues.

Practice head(s):

Amanda Gordon

Other key lawyers:

Zoe Romain

Smith Partnership

Smith Partnership applies its 'great can-do attitude' to all of its commercial property work, and advises on landlord and tenant issues, commercial and residential developments and property finance work. Jason Wood leads the Derby-based team and is instructed by developers to assist with projects ranging from site assembly issues through to the subsequent sales. At associate level, Tara Harding is recommended for her expertise in licensing issues, particularly with regards to the hospitality sector.

Practice head(s):

Jason Wood

Other key lawyers:

Rashid Ali; Tara Harding; Danielle Upton


‘Absolute first class law firm with great strengths in many fields. They have a great can do attitude.’

Key clients

Garibaldi Limited

Sovereign Crest Limited

Comex 2000 Limited

Reece Enterprises Limited

Littler Investments Limited

Blueline Homes Limited

HGV Direct

Cromford Group Limited

CT Skills Limited

Spirit Medical Limited