Commercial property: Liverpool in North West

DLA Piper

The real estate practice at DLA Piper continues to lead the market in Liverpool, expertly handling high-profile investment and development work, acting for local authorities on major regeneration schemes and retaining a prominent client base of investors in the North West markets. North West real estate head Alison Mills has notable expertise in the student accommodation sector, while key practitioner Mark Beardwood acts for universities, property developers, house builders and local authorities. Real estate investment lawyer Richard Thompson contributes his experience of working for UK pension funds as does legal director Richard Ascroft. Hugely experienced consultant Philip Rooney continues to play a key role in the team.

Practice head(s):

Alison Mills

Other key lawyers:

Mark Beardwood; Richard Thompson; Philip Rooney; Richard Ascroft


‘Really strong wider team with good oversight at partner level. Very commercial but always protecting their client’s position.’

‘All the team are of a very good standard. Richard Thompson leads by example but takes an interest and oversight of the rest of the instruction.’

‘A long-standing team with a huge depth of knowledge and significant resource at their disposal. The firm prides itself on diversity, which is evident in the make up of this team and general firm approach. Technology is embraced with online document management and reporting.’

‘We value the team’s open and commercial approach to all instructions, with clear advice and suggestions to simplify and speed up transactions. The whole team is approachable and Alison Mills and Richard Thompson are notable for their commitment to outperforming expectations and supporting their clients and team.’

Key clients

Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited

PGIM Real Estate

Heineken UK Limited

Downing Developments

CBRE Global Investors

LaSalle Investment Management

Schroder Real Estate Managers


Elan Homes Limited

Picton Capital

John Lewis Partnership Pension Fund

Liverpool Football Club

Barings Real Estate Advisers

Orchard Street Investment Management/St James’s Place UK Plc

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Wirral Borough Council on the transformation of Birkenhead Town Centre.
  • Advising funds managed by PGIM Real Estate on the acquisition of three joint ventures.
  • Advising Liverpool Football Club on the relocation from their historic training ground at Melwood to a new facility in Kirkby.

Brabners LLP

Praised for its ‘superb level of client interaction and senior advisor engagement’, the team at Brabners LLP is involved in an array of large, high-profile regeneration projects in the region. Richard Roberts, who leads the investment and property management team, is noted for his retail sector expertise. Development practice head Iain Gamble helms work on waterfront development schemes while Jeff Gillbanks has strong client relationships with major North West developers and investors. Kevin Manley has been promoted to legal director and Andrew Waugh, who joined the firm as sector lead for the real estate group in April 2020, has added significant client-side experience.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Waugh; Richard Roberts; Iain Gamble

Other key lawyers:

Jeff Gillbanks; Helen Brown; Kevin Manley; Matthew Barnes


‘The team at Brabners provided a seamless delivery of external legal support which was coordinated with the in-house legal team, which meant there was a seamless delivery of legal support to the business. The team also coordinated very well with other aspects of the business, which meant instructions were actioned in a legally correct manner but also a commercial sensitive and appropriate way.’

‘Iain Gamble provided first class legal support in a prompt, timely, efficient and cost effective manner. Iain integrated seamlessly with all aspects of the business and went above and beyond to ensure the transaction achieved the required outcome.’

‘The real estate team is extremely dedicated and hard working and has excellent endurance. Acquisitions and disposals, debt finance and legal due diligence are key strengths. The team is personable and responds quickly and has an equal representation of women, particularly in lead roles.’

‘Stand out employees are Helen Brown and Matthew Barnes for their attention to detail, client care and endurance. ’

‘Matthew Barnes has many years of experience undertaking high value and complex work and is therefore able to deal with matters efficiently and cut through the legalese in order to help clients focus on what actually matters and manage real risk as opposed legal theoreticals.’

‘An excellent team – they deal with matters in a diligent and professional fashion. Despite the lockdown the team have still performed to a high level, resulting in speedy completions. Innovative solutions found to complicated transactions of resulting in savings from the client. Introduced new systems for billing and e signing of letters of instructions. ’

Key clients

Alpha Leisureplex Group

Appreciate Group plc (formerly Park Group)

Arnold Clark

Cityheart Developments

Crosslane Student Developments



Greensill Capital (UK) Limited

Home Bargains

ION Property Developments

James Hall & Co (trading as Spar in the North)

LaSalle Investment Management

McColl’s Retail Group plc

The Merseyside Pension Fund (public sector)

NWF Group

Pavers Shoes

Peel Land & Property

Peel Ports Group


Promenade Estates

Real Good Food Group

Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool

Well Pharmacy

Williams Tarr


Work highlights

  • Advised Galleries25 through the procurement process to be selected as the preferred development partner for Wigan Council to deliver a £130m transformation of The Galleries shopping centre, including the delivery of 400+ new homes, a multi-media centre including cinema, music venue and E-sports venue, a new market hall and hotel.
  • Advised McColl’s Retail Group on the strategic disposal of its long-term headquarters and its lease of new main office premises in Brentwood.
  • Advising Lancaster City Council on the proposed £85m Eden Project North in Morecambe.

Hill Dickinson LLP

National firm Hill Dickinson LLP's roots are in Liverpool, and the firm stands out for its dedicated healthcare property practice, led by Amanda Hurst, which has of late been busy supporting the NHS and other healthcare providers with Covid-19 counter-measures. The real estate team also covers high-volume matters in the retail, transport and utilities sectors and acts for local authorities on high-profile development schemes. Alex McCann heads up the Liverpool practice, with key expertise in property development and investment property. David Swaffield is active for international logistics and property development clients.

Practice head(s):

Jim Purves; Alex McCann

Other key lawyers:

David Swaffield; Amanda Hurst; Claire Cosgrove


‘By using the commercial property team at Hill Dickinson we were able to complete a complex transaction within a tight timescale. Claire Cosgrove, the worked with a team of solicitors, producing reports for each element of the transaction which were clear and concise. ’

‘Claire Cosgrove is able to unravel complex legal issues and provide clear and concise commercial advice.’


Key clients

Co-operative Group

Peel Group

Liverpool City Council

Kuehne + Nagel

First Group

National Express Group

Iceland Foods


Mason Partners

Legacie Developments


Cammell Laird Shipbuilders

United Utilities

Electricity North West

Greenwich Leisure

Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust

Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust

Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust

Health Education England

North West Ambulance NHS Trust

Work highlights

  • Acted for the NHS on the urgent provision of Nightingale hospitals and Covid mass vaccination centres.
  • Advised global logistics giant Kuehne + Nagel on the property aspects of the sale of a major part of its UK contract logistics portfolio to XPO Logistics.
  • Exchanged a significant number of agreements for lease during lockdown for new food stores for the Co-operative Group.

Weightmans LLP

Weightmans LLP covers a wide array of commercial property matters, with an active residential development practice and involvement in high-profile development schemes for local authorities in Liverpool and beyond. Janice Weatherly leads the team; she has experience acting for owner managed businesses and higher education clients in public and private sector landlord and tenant law. Key practitioner Clive Bleasdale contributes his expertise in city centre regeneration projects while David Tabinor advises clients on estate management as well as on freehold and leasehold transactions. Christopher Grady, who specialises in residential development, continues to be a name to watch.

Practice head(s):

Janice Weatherly

Other key lawyers:

Clive Bleasdale, David Tabinor; Christopher Grady; Thomas Starkey


‘Deep understanding of the portfolio married with a commercial and legal sound approach.’

‘They are very approachable, knowledgeable and helpful. ’

‘You feel very much part of their team. Nothing is ever too much trouble and they are always available to talk to you and help solve your problems / issues.’

‘Tom Starkey has a fantastic attitude – he makes complex situations simple to understand and is extremely knowledgeable.’

Key clients

Royal Mail Group

British Steel Limited

Liverpool City Council

Bolton Borough Council

Barratts Plc

Reserve Forces and Cadets Association for the North West of England and Isle of Man

Costcutter Supermarkets Group

Persimmon Plc

University of Cumbria

Solent University

Work highlights

  • Acting for Liverpool City Council in connection with the disposal of The Spine building at Paddington Village by way of a letting to Royal College of Physicians substantially.
  • Acting on the real estate elements of the sale of Bibby Distribution including due diligence responses, warranty and indemnity drafting.
  • Advised BDW Trading Limited on the acquisition of Land at Appleton Cross, Warrington for the purposes of the residential development of approximately 370 dwellings (affordable and private) by way of a development lease.


DWF’s ‘highly professional, responsive and pragmatic‘ team takes on matters ranging from asset management to  property finance work. As a part of the firm's multidisciplinary public sector team, it is also involved in a wide array of high-volume development schemes for local authorities. Practice head Julie Simms draws on more than 17 years of experience, while director Helen Thomas contributes expertise in property investment and management including lease negotiations as well as landlord and tenant matters.

Practice head(s):

Julie Simms

Other key lawyers:

Helen Thomas


‘Highly professional, responsive and pragmatic. Flexible fee structures. All matters completed within the agreed budget.’

Key clients

Wirral Borough Council


Borough Council

Conwy County Borough Council


Unity Trust Bank plc

HHGL Limited

Survitec Group Limited

Royal Borough of Greenwich

Liverpool City Council

Work highlights

  • Advising Homes England on significant regeneration projects together with day-to-day advice on a number of real estate acquisitions, disposals and easement transactions.
  • Advising the Costa Team in relation to all North West and North East acquisitions and also on the national Travel acquisitions.

Freeths LLP

The Liverpool real estate team at Freeths LLP has grown its practice considerably since it was founded in 2018, displaying particular strengtsh in the area of real estate finance and a focus on the Liverpool SME market. The team also acts for clients in development and, increasingly, real estate investment work. Managing partner Andrew Nichol leads the practice, noted for his expertise of real estate finance and investment. Luke Hopkins, who contributes a wide range of experience, is a key practitioner on the team.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Nichol

Other key lawyers:

Luke Hopkins; Joei Chung


‘In Luke Hopkins, Joei Chung and Andy Nichol, Freeths have what I consider to be the best commercial property legal team around, and I deal with many. A combination of excellent knowledge, fantastic service, a pragmatism borne out of their confidence in their own judgement and ability, and a desire to get the job done, finding solutions rather than problems.’

‘They are contactable, proactive, knowledgeable about the lending process as a whole and have a desire to help get this job done. ’

‘Andrew Nichol approaches his work with enthusiasm and efficiency and is without doubt the most professional and commercial lawyer I have ever come across. He engages with his counterparts when in negotiations with a practical, can do attitude which has always led to excellent outcomes.’

Key clients

Harworth Group plc

Illiad Group

Allerdale Borough Council

Crossfield Living Limited

Alumier Labs UK Limited

Ascot Properties UK Limited

Better Intelligent Management Limited

Nicholson Group

Braithwaite Group

Trophy Homes Group

Mittty Group

Ghosh Medical Limited

Childwall Table and Chair Hire

C O’Dea Property Services Limited

CDM Investments Limited

West Tree Estates Limited

Roubaix Group

Pure Residential and Commercial Limited

McComb Property Company Ltd

Lloyds Bank plc

Unity Trust Bank plc

Barclays Bank plc

Handelsbanken plc

Santander UK plc

Hope Capital Ltd

Redwood Bank Ltd

Gemini Finance Limited

Velocity Bridging Limited

HSBC Bank Plc

AIB Group (UK) Plc

Clydesdale Bank Plc

Work highlights

  • Advised new client, Harworth Group plc on the purchase and leaseback of Thorns Road Industrial Estate in Brierley Hill for £10.1m and on the off market purchase of Saturn Park Industrial Estate in Knowsley, Liverpool for £26m.
  • Advised Lloyds Bank plc on a £10.75m loan facility for the development of a 108 luxury apartment complex.
  • Advise  new client Unity Trust Bank plc on the provision of loan facilities to support the £9m acquisition of Waterside Retail Park in Derbyshire.


The ‘experienced and commercial practitioners’ at DTM Legal LLP regularly handle a range of landlord and tenant matters, alongside an active development and residential practice. Anna Duffy is at the helm of the practice; she has a focus on property litigation and a wealth of experience in other property matters. Senior associate Isabel Rial plays a key role in the team as lead property solicitor for a number of significant clients.

Practice head(s):

Anna Duffy

Other key lawyers:

Isabel Rial; Tony Parry; Robert Harris


‘Access to experienced and commercial practitioners.’

‘Availability of senior staff who are capable of commercial advice. ’

‘DTM are able to provide a wide range of services which they do very professionally.’

‘The individual I deal with is very thorough and is willing to go the extra mile when requireed and always professional efficient and very pleasant to deal with’

‘As a family we have developed a strong relationship with Robert Harris, which has given us the confidence to expand and grow our family business even though difficult and testing times. We have every confidence in him.’

Key clients

Archway Homes Limited

Anwyl Construction Company Limited Lancashire Branch

Cygnet Group

Vast Visibility Limited

Atmore Developments Limited

Atmore Investments Limited

Pulse Partnership

The Atmore Group

Carpenters Investments Group of Companies

The Windmill Group

AAH Pharmaceuticals Limited

Handelsbanken Liverpool

Morbaine Limited

Quality Freight

Willan Investments Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised on a multimillion-pound re-financing exercise of part of the Atmore Group’s portfolio.
  • Advised Pulse Partnership on the acquisition of a building in Cumbria for the purpose of refurbishment/division into self-contained flats and the sale of individual units.

MSB Solicitors

The MSB Solicitors team covers a range of residential development work, while also regularly handling real estate finance matters and acting for clients in an around Liverpool in the leisure and hospitality sectors. Neil Kelly is head of commercial property at the firm - he has a broad practice which includes advising on development site acquisitions, commercial lease transactions and property management work. Brad Armstrong plays an important role in the team, focusing on housing and regeneration activity, while Darren Barwick acts for private bridging finance companies and national lenders.

Practice head(s):

Neil Kelly

Other key lawyers:

Brad Armstrong; Darren Barwick


‘Extremely commercially minded and solutions driven.’

‘We are always assigned a first class team of partners and solicitors who progress our work knowledgeably and in a timely fashion. Fees are always sensible.’

‘Brad Armstrong has excellent commercial and strategic acumen. Extremely good knowledge of our sector and the people involved in the sector.’

Key clients

X1 Developments

Legacie Developments

Fortis Developments

Oakwood Group

Young Homes

Penny Lane Builders Limited

Redwood Bank Ltd

Gemini Finance Ltd

White Rhino Capital

Community Housing (UK) Limited

Liver Property Group

Work highlights

  • Advised X1 Developments on a complex development site at Media City, Salford which will ultimately comprise circa 1300 residential apartments, commercial and outdoor amenity space developed across four phases. The purchase including an acquisition finance loan.
  • Advised lender in a portfolio refinance containing 24 properties with a combined value of £5m. The deal involved 3 separate loans to subsidiary companies with the parent company entering into corporate guarantees for each loan and the cross collateralization of the various assets of the borrower client to gain comfort on the strength of the borrowers position.
  • Acquisition of land for residential development and completion of development finance loan.