Social housing: local authorities and registered providers in London

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Trowers & Hamlins LLP has a ‘unique focus’ on advising both local authorities and housing providers on all aspects of the sector, making it the go-to firm for issues including social housing finance, employment, construction, real estate litigation, public procurement and planning. The group, which is comprised of over 180 lawyers across the country, has adapted to changes in the market. It now advises on high profile, complex transactions bringing together the private and public sectors to secure the long term provision of more affordable housing. Tonia Secker leads the affordable housing team and has particular experience of advising government agencies, combined authorities and the GLA. Sharron Webster advises on governance and regulatory issues, corporate group structures and merger projects. Amy Shaw has ‘encyclopaedic knowledge’ of joint venture issues. Scott DorlingSara Bailey and Andy Barnard are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Tonia Secker; Sara Bailey

Testimonials

The team are focused and to the point, they are able to work effectively and efficiently and advise the client in an appropriate manner. They are always readily accessible and focused on finding solutions for their client.’

Unique focus, longstanding depth and breadth of experience. Exceptionally well informed by virtue of wider practice specialisms working with key stakeholders.

Amy Shaw has a unique depth of understanding of sector clients’ needs across a wide range of activities, with particular strength in development and joint venture arrangements.

Tonia Secker occupies a unique position, which supports commercial progress with key stakeholders and grant providers due to her depth of knowledge of the needs of both constituencies.

The Trowers real estate team is hugely experienced with a wealth of transactional experience in the residential property sector with specialist support for areas such as corporate law & tax.

The client relationships are pivotal to their success as they have a lead partner (Amy Shaw) who oversees all matters and will intervene if matters require escalation.

My lead contact is Amy Shaw, who has encyclopaedic knowledge of our past transactions and offers insightful timely advice – she will immediately draw upon her team’s resources if a matter needs urgent attention.

Amy makes herself available at very short notice and is a true star performer.’

Key clients

Homes England

Peabody

The Guinness Partnership

L&G Affordable Homes

L&Q

Hyde Housing Group

Clarion Housing Group

Residential Secure Income plc

Great London Authority

Westminster City Council

Work highlights

  • Advised Homes England on the creation and further development of the legal structures to implement a revised approach to introduce greater flexibility into how £1 billion of grant funding can be utilised to deliver more affordable housing.
  • Advised on the housing management arrangement between Legal & General and its management partners for its affordable housing business which is committed to investing over £1 billion in the next 5 years.
  • Acted for Longhurst Group, Hyde Housing Group, Flagship and Cross Keys Homes in their innovative joint venture delivery of 2,000 homes across the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region.

Devonshires Solicitors LLP

Devonshires Solicitors LLP is extremely active in the social housing sector, advising all of the London G15 members. The team offers a full service to its housing provider clients, including advising on housing management, regeneration projects, mergers and structuring work. Nick Billingham, Andrew Cowan and consultant Gareth Hall are the key practitioners.

Winckworth Sherwood LLP

Winckworth Sherwood LLP has an  ‘excellent range of expertise’  in social housing matters, putting it on a strong footing to advise many of the largest registered providers in the UK. The group includes experts in social housing finance, planning, property litigation, tax, corporate & commercial and construction. Practice head Andrew Murray has particular expertise in major regeneration schemes. Charlie Proddow advises on all aspects of site assembly, land acquisitions, onward disposals and lettings for residential and mixed-use schemes.  Head of residential development sales Ruth Barnes advises numerous London-based providers on new build plot disposals.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Murray

Other key lawyers:

Ruth Barnes; Charlie Proddow;

Testimonials

Both partners and associates at WS have excellent experience in advising RP’s on development transactions. The advice is thorough and pragmatic.’

Excellent knowledge of the sector and our requirements. This understanding of our internal processes/needs and tailoring their service to accommodate makes them easy to work with.

Very contactable and willing to make time to talk through issues when they arise ensuring all decisions made are done so with full understanding.’

Work highlights

  • Advised bpha Limited on the £65m acquisition of affordable housing units at the Northstowe development
  • Advised Network Homes Limited on the acquisition of land at Park Royal, to be developed for affordable housing use.
  • Advised Longhurst Group Limited on the dDisposal of operating care home to Humberside Independent Care Association Limited.

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP, which opened a Manchester office in 2019, is ‘able to offer a wide range of advice on many issues relating to social housing’. The group assists numerous registered providers and housing associations on corporate issues such as mergers, joint ventures and group restructures. It also offers housing management services, which includes assistance with asset management and various types of litigation. Lucy Worrall and Jonathan Cox oversee the new office; the former specialises in development and regeneration issues, while the latter is heavily involved in voluntary right to buy pilots. Helen Tucker, who is based in Birmingham along with senior partner Peter Hubbard, specialises in housing management and litigation.

Testimonials

Confidence, expertise, clear communications and most importantly trust., are what stand out. We have worked with a number of staff at this firm and find consistently high standards, a well run and managed practice. The level of communication, feedback has been nurturing, teaching individuals the principles and practice of law, whilst at the same time dealing with matters at hand.

We trust the individuals. They have gained this trust by taking and building a relational approach. The willingness to help in matters, and not always for any business gain, says a lot. We have good individuals who go out there way to understand us, the business and get it and work back from this.’

Range of expertise and services offered, in a regional values-driven practice. particularly strong in housing and corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions and treasury work.’

ACS has a culture and set of business ethics which is perhaps uniquely appropriate to the social housing and not-for-profit sectors which it serves so well. Crucially, though, the firm’s ethics do not dilute the professionalism and commerciality of the legal team and the advice and support they provide, which I’ve always found to be first-class.’

This practice is able to offer a wide range of advice on many issues relating to social housing. We have received advice on governance issues, legal housing issues and financial matters. All the advice received has been of the highest quality. All members of the team are responsive and knowledgeable in their specialist fields.’

Key clients

Clarion Housing Group

Riverside Housing Group

Citizen Housing Group

Trafford Housing Trust

Futures Housing Group

Orbit Group

One Manchester

Thirteen Housing Group

Connexus Housing Limited

Aspire Housing Group

Irwell Valley Housing Association

Housing Plus

Stafford & Rural

The Guinness Housing Partnership

Great Places Housing Group

First Choice Homes Oldham

Knowsley Housing Group

Salix Homes

Work highlights

  • Advised Riverside on a joint venture with Bovis Homes which will deliver a £900m extension of Wellingborough – 3,650 homes, retail and leisure, community and health facilities, 3 new schools, enhanced railway station and high technology and distribution businesses.
  • Advised Trafford Housing Trust as it joined the L&Q Group as a subsidiary.
  • Advised Clarion Housing Group Limited on the procurement of 20 year planned maintenance contracts. The deal was worth approximately £1,170,000,000 (OJEU notice contract value).

Bevan Brittan LLP

Bevan Brittan LLP, whose practice is led by Jonathan Turner in Bristol, is heavily involved in all aspects of social housing development. Its multifaceted practice covers areas such as regeneration, joint ventures, procurement, construction, tax and planning. A recent highlight involved advising Peabody on procuring a strategic joint venture partner for the £3.5bn development of Thamesmead Waterfront. The team is also handles housing management work; Neil Brand advises on disrepair, energy arrangements, cladding and construction issues. Wendy Wilks and Andrew Shaw oversee the London office and advise on all aspects of land acquisition and disposal, development and regeneration.

Other key lawyers:

Neil Brand; Fiona McDonald

Testimonials

Very detail-focused and supportive with a strong view on communicating risks and opportunities to us as a client. Advice given considers the materiality of risks and their outcomes which is especially useful for making judgement calls.

Overall breadth of experience of supporting similar transactions is very strong.

Wendy Wilks (Partner) – Wendy is very considered and gives clear advice on findings – including risks and opportunities. She is very efficient and has shown significant understanding and support for us as a client – regularly monitoring and supporting us by highlighting actions and next steps including review of 3rd party input. Her level of detail focus has given us significant confidence on a very high-profile and complex transaction.

Fiona McDonald (Senior Associate)- Similar to Wendy, Fiona has provided us a high-quality and detailed service, including responding quickly and concisely on a number of urgent/ad-hoc requests.’

Key clients

L&Q Group

Places for People Group

Catalyst Housing Group

Orbit Homes

London Borough of Barnet

Network Homes

Peabody Group

Sanctuary Group

London Borough of Brent

Home Group

Hyde Housing

Southern Housing

Estuary Housing

Cambridge Housing Society Limited

Avenues Trust

Croydon Churches Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Advised East Wick and Sweetwater Projects Limited on the procurement of a development team and supply chain to deliver 1,500 new homes at the former London Olympic Park.
  • Advised on the regeneration of Southall, under the first Housing Zone initiative, to deliver 4,000 new homes, commercial space and infrastructure.
  • Advised L&Q Housing Trust  on the complex acquisition of 172 new affordable housing units at the former Croydon Council head office .

Capsticks LLP

Having expanded significantly in recent years, Capsticks LLP has become a ‘go-to firm for social housing’; the group now advises numerous housing associations both within London and across the UK. The housing regeneration team is jointly led by Chimi Shakohoxha and James Howard, who ‘provide a fantastic service’ on matters relating to property development, joint ventures, regeneration and mixed-use developments. Daniel Skinner leads the housing management practice and ‘knows everything there is to know’ about anti-social behaviour, data protection, leasehold and shared ownership issues. Helen Gascoigne is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Chimi Shakohoxha; Daniel Skinner

Testimonials

They have a tremendous breadth of experience and knowledge, and expertise across a range of issues that involve private registered providers and local authorities in particular. Their client care skills are second to none and they are very much, to use that horrible phrase, a go-to firm. In short, they understand their market.’

Capsticks are the go-to firm for social housing. The way they interact with their clients is personal and tailored, so the level of service they give is exceptional. As a barrister, I am always well briefed, which is a testament to their brilliant organisational skills and depth of experience.

Daniel Skinner is the go-to partner for all social housing work. He knows everything there is to know. He takes problems and creates unique tailored solutions.

Helen Gascoigne has become one of the best practitioners in this area in the last few years. She is exceptional. Her knowledge is beyond her number of years as a solicitor. I would trust her with any of my own personal housing issues.’

Capsticks mix a blend of high and wide-ranging levels of housing expertise with a helpful can-do attitude. I have always been impressed with how efficiently they tackle tasks and I’ve always been happy with their service and the commitment they show towards their client.

Honourable mentions need to be made for the excellent Chimi Shakohoxha and James Howard. Both provide a fantastic service and really look to help their client. Excellent levels of knowledge across varying complex contractual situations. They have proven to be very helpful and it has been a very enjoyable working relationship.’

Capsticks is a sector trailblazer, bringing together leaders in their respective fields. Responses are quick and tailored to the instructing client. Advice is effective, outcome-focused, and mindful of cost and reputational issues. The Team is professional, accessible and approachable, taking time to get to know us and how we work. I am always impressed with the scope of their expertise.’

Key clients

L&Q Housing Trust

Notting Hill Genesis

Poplar HARCA

Clarion Housing

Metropolitan Thames Valley

Orbit Housing Group

Vivid Housing Limited

Havebury Housing Association

Soha Housing

Sovereign Housing Association

Stonewater

Optivo

New Forest Villages Housing Association Limited

Tower Hamlets Community Housing

Richmond Housing Partnership

Gateway

Westway

Work highlights

  • Negotiated a new £100m secured loan facility for L&Q as borrower provided by a new sector international entrant – the National Australia Bank. Negotiation and signing of the loan agreement and granting of security over 714 units to secure the loan took place simultaneously, within 3 weeks of the funder’s solicitors confirming their appointment.
  • Advised Optivo on a £41m deal to purchase of 128 units in South West London.
  • Advised Poplar HARCA on its response in the Upper Tier Tribunal against an appeal by the Information Commissioner to a First Tier Tribunal decision that housing associations are not subject to the Environmental Information Regulations.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP utilises its national network of offices to advise local authorities in London and across the country on regeneration projects, joint ventures and mixed-use developments. The group also acts for the government, having been consulted by HM Treasury on its public/private joint venture guidance for local authorities. Anne Bowden, who leads the team from Leeds, recently advised Westminster City Council on its flagship Church Street regeneration project. From Birmingham, David Meecham works closely with Homes England and is instructed on affordable housing deliveries across London.

Practice head(s):

Anne Bowden

Other key lawyers:

David Meecham; Nick McDonald

Testimonials

‘They have a strong understanding of the particular challenges faced by the public and private sectors respectively, and when approaching projects together. Very good understanding of the housing sector.’

‘The team has a number of very strong individuals across the UK – standouts include Anne Bowden.’

‘The individuals are generally all very experienced, and where they are not, they are very well managed to ensure that they pick up the experience.’

Key clients

Homes England

Westminster City Council

London Borough of Lambeth

London Borough of Haringey

Galliford Try Partnerships

Lovell Partnerships

Countryside Properties

London Borough of Wandsworth

London Borough of Hackney

London Borough of Brent

Work highlights

  • Advised London Borough of Wandsworth  on its £1bn innovative joint venture with Taylor Wimpey to deliver over 2000 new homes beside Clapham Junction station.
  • Advising London Borough of Brent on the long-running multifaceted regeneration of South Kilburn estate using a variety of legal structures.
  • Advising Bristol City Council on its 1200 unit mixed tenure housing development at Hengrove Park

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP’s ‘strong and sound knowledge of the housing sector’ enables it to act for many of the leading London registered providers, including several G15 members, on development, housing management, litigation and construction issues. Kate Silverman, who arrived from Blake Morgan LLP in 2019, leads the London team and acts for registered providers, local authorities and charities on joint venture regeneration and complex development issues. Kary Withers leads the national team from the Bristol office and is a litigation specialist. She acts for a number of providers in telecoms disputes and is dealing with one of the first cases under the new telecoms code.

Practice head(s):

Kary Withers; Kate Silverman

Testimonials

They have a strong and sound knowledge of the housing sector.’

Clarke Wilmott have an approachable, experienced and knowledgeable team that focuses on getting the best outcome for the client. They are set up to deal with initial letters before action before moving on to more involved litigation and attendance at court.

High level of commitment and attention to detail, ability to look at cases from all angles and assess risks and merits. Convey complex procedural arguments in a clear and concise way.’

Flexible, pragmatic and client-focused with a depth of experience

Clarke Willmott has specialist knowledge of social housing and commercial property. This is supported by extremely good customer service.

Kary Withers (partner) heads up the social housing team and always ensures customers receive timely and accurate advice. She has a breadth of knowledge across social housing, telecommunications and commercial property. As well as offering legal advice Kary has used her professional network to connect us with other organisations that face similar challenges and legal issues.’

The team are highly responsive, pragmatic and personable, with deep sector experience.

Fraser MacRae and Vicky Kells and their colleagues are great to work with and provide an excellent joined-up service across the banking and property sides of a transaction.’

Key clients

London & Quadrant

Clarion Housing Association Limited

Metropolitan Thames Valley

Peabody Trust

The Guinness Partnership Limited

Notting Hill Genesis

Southern

Newlon

One Housing Group

St Mungo’s

Work highlights

  • Advising One Housing Group in connection with the estate regeneration in Barnet.
  • Advising Peabody Trust in connection with the Thamesmead Regeneration Project.
  • Advising L&Q in relation to a £125m loan facility.

TLT

Specialising in social housing development work, TLT  has advised on several high-profile regeneration projects across London in recent years. The core group is complemented by the firm’s specialist tax and planning teams, which assist with issues over enforcement, CPO powers and planning appropriation powers. Practice head Linda Convery handles a range of matters, including the negotiation of complex development agreements, conditional contracts and planning agreements. Legal director Hugh James has experience of leading on complex disposals, such as sales to investors of student housing. Shazia Bashir is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Linda Convery

Testimonials

TLT is a practice that provides an excellent service to clients without a legal background.

I mainly work with Linda Convery and Tamsin Taylor. Their standard of care to clients is outstanding.’

Responsive, clear with advice, expertise. Appreciation of ‘commercial reality’.

Reliable, client focussed, knowledgeable, approachable.’

TLT have a good understanding of the transactions they are working on and our expectation. In line with other firms.’

The team at TLT are friendly and helpful. They ensure that initial advice is given at the outset of an instruction so that a matter is dealt with in the most cost-efficient way.’

Key clients

One Housing Group Ltd

Peabody Trust

The Guinness Partnership Limited

Network Housing Group

London Borough of Lambeth

Notting Hill Genesis

Southern Housing Group

Swan Housing Group

London & Quadrant (L&Q)

Catalyst Housing Group

Work highlights

  • Advised Peabody on the £120 million acquisition of 328 affordable units.
  • Advised Southern Housing on the £39 million acquisition of 400 units from Hyde Housing. Association.
  • Advised One Housing on the phased purchase of affordable units at Greenwich Millennium Village.

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP advises local authorities, housing associations, ALMOs and social landlords on a broad range of issues, including the acquisition and disposal of housing developments, litigation and tenancy management issues. Property litigation head Sian Gibbon handles matters concerning anti-social behaviour, disrepair claims and EPA claims, and homelessness reviews. Tim Heal is another key practitioner.

Practice head(s):

Tim Heal; Sian Gibbon

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP provides a ‘very good all-round experience’ to housing associations across the UK, which encompasses advice on developments, acquisitions and litigation. Andrew Casstles heads up the London team. Another name to note is Mark Sellers, who advises on acquisitions by outright purchase, conditional agreements, option agreements and golden brick agreements. Ben Robinson is a specialist in contentious housing issues. Linda Storey is another key name.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Casstles; Linda Storey

Testimonials

They are efficient and don’t hang around in endless legal jargon, providing straight answers. They look for ways to deal with issues rather than debating them back and forth.

The unique ability of this firm is the strength of its associates and the personable nature of the firm. They have excellent knowledge of the property sector and are able to advise on a wide range of deal structures. The advice they provide is clear and concise and PMC is always prepared to go the extra mile for their clients.

Very responsive, good access to very experienced senior-level partners.

Peter Massey – As a senior partner, Peter is always available and responsive to client enquiries, he always finds the time to take my calls. No matter what the time is! Peter brings a strong commercial focus, and draws on his experience across both the private and housing association sectors to highlight potential different options that can help to unblock an impasse.’

Professional. A very good all-round experience, easy access to partners and always happy to offer solutions and guide you through some of the most tricky negotiations.

All the individuals I have had cause to work with have been very easy to get along with and make things easy to understand. Nothing is too much trouble.’

The team is well led by Andrew Casstles and has a good depth of knowledge, they are responsive and advise in an easily understandable way, highlighting key areas of risk.

Andrew Casstles leads the team well and provides clear and easily interpreted advice.’

Key clients

Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association

Paragon Asra Housing Limited

Optivo

Poplar HARCA

bpha

Southern Housing Group

Bromford Housing Association

Saxon Weald

Peabody Trust

Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association Limited

RHP (Richmond Housing Partnership)

West Kent Housing Association

Phoenix Community Housing Association (Bellingham and Downham) Limited

Hightown Housing Association Limited

Wandle Housing Association Limited

Sovereign Housing Association Limited

Hexagon Housing Association Limited

One Housing Group Limited

North London Muslims Housing Association Limited

Plymouth Community Homes Limited

Aldwyck Housing Group Limited

Octavia Housing Limited

Network Homes Limited

London and Quadrant

LiveWest Homes Limited

Magna Housing Limited

Westway Housing Association Limited

Shepherd’s Bush Housing Group Limited

Settle Group

Work highlights

  • Advised bpha on the acquisition and development of 178 s106 units in two phases in Houghton Regis.
  • Advised Paragon Asra Housing Limited on acquisition of five adjoining properties to be developed into 153 residential units.
  • Advised MTVHA in respect of drafting a combined heat and power agreement between MTVHA and A2Dominion.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP handles a wide range of contentious and non-contentious matters for clients such as housing associations, councils, ALMOs, charities, for-profit registered providers and innovative affordable housing providers. Practice head Nigel Emmerson advises on tenancy management issues and oversees many of the firm's most significant client relationships. Tracy Walsh is a specialist in the pension issues faced by registered providers.

Practice head(s):

Nigel Emmerson

Work highlights

  • Advised Karbon Homes Limited on the acquisition of 15 separate sites, including a 100 unit scheme at North Hylton Sunderland, a 66 unit scheme at Esh Winning Durham and a 64 unit scheme in Thirsk.
  • Acted for Bernicia Group on a range of tenancy management issues including claims to possession, injunctions to tackle anti-social behaviour, committals for breach and defending housing disrepair claims.
  • Advised Accent Housing Group on the sale of the supported living part of its business to another registered provider. The transaction covers 278 units tenant units the transfer of staff, assignment of management and a mix of whole and partial blocks and buildings to the purchaser.