Firms To Watch: Commercial property: Liverpool

Glenville Walker & Partners bulked up its presence in Liverpool with the acquisition of property specialist firm Rees-Roberts in November 2021.

Commercial property: Liverpool in North West

DLA Piper UK LLP

DLA Piper‘s commercial property practice continues to head the Liverpool market as the ‘extremely proactive‘ team handle large-scale investment work and high-profile regional development projects for local authorities. Alison Mills heads up the North West real estate practice, and is noted for her expertise in student accommodation matters. Mark Beardwood regularly works on major town-centre regeneration schemes, as well as single and multi-asset investment acquisitions and disposals. Real estate investment experts Richard Thompson and Richard Ascroft advise numerous pension funds and corporations on their property portfolios. Philip Rooney continued to support the team in his capacity as a consultant.

Practice head(s):

Alison Mills

Other key lawyers:

Richard Thompson; Philip Rooney; Mark Beardwood; Richard Ascroft

Testimonials

‘A very stable team.’

‘Extremely proactive team – standouts are Alison Mills and Richard Thompson.’

Key clients

Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited

PGIM Real Estate

Heineken UK Limited

Downing Developments

CBRE Global Investors

LaSalle Investment Management

Schroder Real Estate Managers

Nuveen

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

Elite Partners Capital

Capital & Centric

Greater Manchester Combined Authority

Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council

Transport for Greater Manchester

Work highlights

  • Advising on a project in Southport which will provide a state of the art modern event space to continue the Council’s ambition to transform Southport into a thriving and vibrant visitor centre.
  • Advising Wirral Borough Council in connection with the first phase of their plan for the redevelopment of Birkenhead town centre. The value of the scheme is GBP75 million.
  • Advising a pension fund in connection with the funding of a new 369 bed hotel and restaurant as part of a mixed use development next to Paddington Station with a pre-let in place to Whitbread. The development value is GBP143 million.

Brabners LLP

Described as ‘very diverse and professional’ the team at Brabners LLP advises clients on all aspects of commercial property law, including real estate finance, agriculture, and regeneration ventures. Richard Roberts leads the investment and property management team within the practice, providing services to retailers and major land owners. Development lead Iain Gamble regularly works with local authorities on large-scale regeneration schemes, and Jeff Gillbanks remains active on transformative development and investment projects. Leading the real estate sector, Andrew Waugh adds a wealth of development and client-side experience to the practice. Helen Brown continues to lead on key deals.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Waugh; Richard Roberts; Iain Gamble

Other key lawyers:

Helen Brown; Jeff Gillbanks; Peter Blakemore; Neil McBurney; Luke Taylor; Rebecca McDonald; Fern Brunskill

Testimonials

‘The team’s approach is always measured and sensible, and they are well respected amongst both counterparts and their clients and are seen as honest brokers who will be pragmatic and reasonable.’

‘The stand out individual here is Iain Gamble who is excellent in the development sector. Iain is extremely bright but operates in a quiet and unassuming way. His sensible approach in meetings helps to make progress as opposite lawyers and clients realise he is trying to come up with fair solutions and is not looking to make outlandish demands or score points.’

‘Iain Gamble has a very structured approach and his drafting is clear and unambiguous with documents being easily understood. He is very good at dealing with the public sector when acting for private clients and gives them confidence that he understands their issues and is not trying to be devious or clever. He is also a very nice guy!’

‘The team is very diverse and professional. The number of people available to work on the volumes we require is always adaptable and each with the relevant knowledge required. Billing is always completed in a timely manner and at a competitive rate.’

‘The key individuals are very flexible and always available to work through questions about ongoing works and are able to explain specific areas in a format that we can relate to. Both Peter Blakemore and Neil McBurney have been key contacts over the past 3-4 years and invaluable to us to ensure the development of the business as well as maintaining the current portfolio.’

‘Speed and focus on the necessary elements of the transaction are key to us. The team at Brabners know this.’

‘Luke Taylor manages all our work, ably assisted by Rebecca McDonald and Fern Brunskill. They understand the need for simplicity and focus of approach. Availability is very good and communication is maintained at a high level. Always ‘go the extra mile’ to conclude transactions.’

Key clients

Arnold Clark

Cityheart Developments

Glenbrook

Home Bargains

ION Property Developments

LaSalle Investment Management

McColl’s Retail Group plc

Peel L&P

Peel Ports Group

Primark

Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool

Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council

Alpha Leisureplex Group

Appreciate Group plc (formerly Park Group)

Beaverbrooks

Clayton Square Shopping Centre

Crosslane Student Developments

Galleries25

Gourmet Coffee Bar and Kitchen

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

The Merseyside Pension Fund

NWF Group

Pavers Shoes

Promenade Estates

Real Good Food Group

Well Pharmacy

Williams Tarr

Work highlights

  • Advised Peel L&P in respect of the new Everton FC stadium development which started onsite at Bramley Moore Dock in Liverpool during 2021.
  • Worked with Galleries 25 LP on the delivery of the 8-acre mixed use development scheme at The Galleries, in Wigan. The redevelopment is a five-year project that will deliver housing, leisure, entertainment and events space in the heart of Wigan.
  • Advised Flintrock Limited on the letting of a new warehouse in Knowsley to Amazon UK, followed by a £29.6m sale to RTP Global RE Investment.

CMS

The recently established Liverpool commercial property team at CMS have quickly built up a broad client base, regularly servicing both local businesses and national multi-asset investment firms. The practice is led by real estate expert Abby Dry – she advises clients across various sectors including retail, and has a particular specialism in warehousing and logistics deals. Neil Lacey handles matters related to the strategic acquisition, development, and re-purposing of commercial properties, and has a wealth of experience acting for house builders.

Practice head(s):

Abby Dry; Mark Haywood

Other key lawyers:

Neil Lacey

Key clients

Sainsburys / Argos

Alberta Investment Management Company (AIMCo)

Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCo)

Tristan Capital Partners

NewRiver REIT

Woodhall Estates

ARA Dunedin

Columbia Threadneedle

Goldman Sachs

Mayfair Capital

Sunventure Group

Urban Splash

Wayfair

Matalan

Oatly

Deutsche Bank

G Group of Companies

Foster Marlon

Kinrise Real Estate

Welcome Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised long-term client, FTSE listed NewRiver REIT plc, on a range of matters including the sale of NewRiver’s entire community pub business for £222.3m and its acquisition of The Moor, a 28 acre site in the heart of Sheffield City Centre’s shopping district for £41m.
  • Advised Alberta Investment Management Company (AIMCo) in a JV with Canmoor on its acquisition and subsequent reorganisation and financing of 16 urban industrial estates in the UK for £317m, and on the acquisition of two logistics warehouses let to UPS and Amazon in Dunstable for £126m.
  • Advised Kinrise Real Estate Limited on the real estate aspects of the purchase of the Grade II listed Martin’s Bank Building in Liverpool for redevelopment into grade A offices and various leisure sites.

DWF

DWF's commercial property team takes on work for several multinational business and local governments, with a particular focus on the retail, consumer, and communications sectors. Julie Simms leads the practice and regularly advises on major public sector regeneration projects, working with both council in-house legal teams and local authorities directly. Helen Thomas continues to provide her expertise within the property investment and management sectors, including lease negotiation and acquisitions.

Practice head(s):

Helen Thomas; Julie Simms

Testimonials

‘The team are approachable and very knowledgeable about our estate’

Key clients

Liverpool John Moores University

Wirral Borough Council

Wigan Council

Swansea City and County Council

Manchester City Council

Royal Borough of Greenwich

Alvarium

Conwy County Council

Cornwall Council

Costa

Work highlights

  • Advising the Royal Borough of Greenwich on all of their major regeneration matters over the next two years including the delivery of a masterplan for Charlton Riverside (8,000 new homes and 4,400 new jobs) and several multi-million pound grant-funded schemes.
  • Advising Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council on several of its major regeneration projects including the Wirral Waters One project leading to the delivery of 500 new homes, Hind Street Regeneration project involving the delivery of a comprehensive mixed used scheme and a a £22m Maritime Knowledge Hub.
  • Advising Manchester City Council on one of its flagship regeneration projects in the area of Bootle Street in the city centre, working with the developer to bring forward a mixed use development comprising offices, retail and leisure, hotel, apartments and public realm.

Hill Dickinson LLP

Headquartered in Liverpool, Hill Dickinson LLP provides a full service offering and an ‘exceptional’ commercial property team, focusing largely on regional development, planning, and investment work. Alex McCann heads up the national practice and regularly advises on high value regional development projects and investment properties. Claire Cosgrove works with clients in the retail sector, and David Swaffield continues to lead on key development and logistics matters.

Practice head(s):

Alex McCann

Other key lawyers:

Bill Chandler; Claire Cosgrove; Tony Houghton

Testimonials

‘The commercial property team in Liverpool are exceptional. They provide clear advice tailored to our needs. They are very knowledgeable, friendly and approachable. Nothing is too much trouble. It just feels like an extension of our in-house legal team. In addition to the aforementioned, the standard of training, seminars, webinars provided by the team, and Bill Chandler in particular, are of the highest quality.’

‘Claire Cosgrove is everything we look for in a solicitor. Extremely knowledgeable, vastly experienced, not only in all aspects of commercial property but also in our business, Claire is able to be pro-active with her advice, tailored to our requirements, and will often bring matters to our attention before we even ask the question. Claire is very friendly, approachable and can always be contacted.’

‘Bill Chandler keeps in touch with us to ensure we are up to date with legal developments, cases, new procedures/policies, legislation, ‘good practice’ etc. In addition to having a brilliant legal brain, Bill can explain the most complex areas of commercial property law in easily digestible pieces which are easy to understand, he provides examples which directly relate to our business and anticipates the challenges we are likely to face, and he is also a fantastic public speaker/training facilitator. Bill is also one of the nicest people you could wish to meet.’

‘Great understanding of our business and our standard position allows a focus on the key elements of any negotiation. Speed of response and availability of personnel provides a great level of service. They know what we need and deliver it quickly and efficiently down to minimising our admin.’

‘All my work is with Claire Cosgrove. She goes above and beyond to ensure that our needs are met and that deals happen on time. I’m updated regularly and only need to input when direction/instructions are required. She knows our business and the individuals and will contact my colleagues directly when she knows their input is required. She works efficiently and deals with admin quickly taking the pressure off me.’

‘Personal approach, providing excellent advice and being able to draw on a wealth of expertise within the wider company.’

‘Tony Houghton has lot of experience in his field, very productive and efficient management of cases, highlighting areas of risk for us as a client.’

‘Super lawyers. Their straightforward approach, wealth of knowledge and experience across all sectors of the property market have made Hill Dickinson the advisors of choice for many clients.’

Key clients

Carpenter Investments

Clatterbridge Cancer Centre

Co-operative Group

Derwent Lodge Estates

DHL

East Cheshire NHS Trust

Electricity North West

FirstGroup

Huws Gray Builders Merchants

Iceland Foods

Kuehne + Nagel

Legacie Developments

Liverpool City Council

Mason Partners

Morbaine

National Express Group

Peel L&P

Sandyford Properties Limited

St Helens Council

United Utilities

Work highlights

  • Advised Peel L&P on the £130m forward sale of a 500 unit residential development scheme at Wirral Waters to Pension Insurance Corporation plc.
  • Advising Liverpool City Council on the regeneration of iconic sites at Festival Gardens and the former Littlewoods Building.
  • Advised leading independent builders merchants Huws Gray on their £520m acquisition of Buildbase and other brands (including over 200 branches) from Grafton Group.

Weightmans LLP

The commercial property team at Weightmans LLP takes on a wide range of matters, working with clients across sectors including energy, retail and leisure. Andrea Steventon acts for clients in the manufacturing and industrial sector, from multinational developers to smaller regional businesses. Karl Jackson co-heads the team with Steventon, specialising in city centre regeneration projects as well as regular landlord and tenant matters. Clive Bleasdale brings a wealth of experience to the team, acting for Liverpool City Council on major development projects, and former practice head Janice Weatherly continues to provide services to education institutions, owner managed businesses and private healthcare clients.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Steventon; Karl Jackson

Other key lawyers:

Clive Bleasdale; Janice Weatherly; David Tabinor

Testimonials

‘Very knowledgeable in the residential sector, especially residential public sector opportunities.’

‘Karl Jackson – extremely knowledgeable. Works hard to find solutions to problems.’

‘A sound commercial approach to all real estate matters without being bogged down by slavishly following precedents, and always mindful of getting the job done to the client’s time frame. Cost is important, and they provide greater value for money than their competitors. It is usually partners who do the work, and is not handed down to junior fee earners who may soon get out of their depth. Continuity is important to us, and builds a strong bond of trust.’

‘Janice Weatherly handles the work herself, and knows and understands our needs and requirements. Very commercial and sees all the angles, yet providing the best solution to close the deal.’

Key clients

Barratt Homes

St Helens Borough Council

MHA London

Bruntwood

Liverpool City Council

Eccleston Homes Ltd

Escape to Freight Island

Landmark

Liverpool Media Academy

Thomas Jones & Sons (Liverpool) Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for St Helens Borough Council in connection with site assembly in connection with a major regeneration scheme for the town centre including all due diligence in connection with the acquisition of substantial properties within the town centre.
  • Advising MHA London on the purchase of the Debenhams building at the Moor in Sheffield from the M&G Property Portfolio.
  • Acting on behalf of FTSE 100 housebuilder client in the acquisition of land acquired from Homes England at Cottam, Preston for 117 dwellings

Freeths LLP

The real estate team at Freeths LLP has continued to grow its practice, with particular expertise in real estate finance, asset management, and development. Practice head Andrew Nichol has extensive experience in the property aspects of corporate transactions, and regularly acts on business sale deals. Coporate real estate lawyer Luke Hopkins advises on a range of matters, specialising in real estate finance.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Nichol

Other key lawyers:

Luke Hopkins; Joei Chung

Testimonials

‘Luke Hopkins is exceptional. Has great knowledge, very approachable and is able to communicate in a way which assists with explaining complex situations.’

‘A fantastic team; the best I know. Large enough and knowledgeable enough to deal with all transactions and small enough to care. The USP of the individuals is that they answer the phone, return emails, provide solutions not problems and have a genuine interest in looking after their clients.’

‘The individuals I deal with are the best lawyers I know and I know alot. As I said above, the provide solutions not problems. They are contactable, knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with. They have confidence in their expertise and are not afraid to use it. They don’t hide behind their PII.’

‘The team have long standing and loyal relationships with their clients and always go above and beyond what can be reasonably expected.’

‘Andy Nichol offers a very personalised and diligent service that always exceeds expectations. His advice is clear and concise and puts the client’s needs at the forefront. He is an effective communicator and is always able to take a commercial view on complex matters and advise accordingly.’

‘Joei Cheung – drives the transaction, has a positive and can-do attitude.’

Key clients

FTS Corp

Antenor Limited

Benjamin Hayes Properties Limited

Joint Trade & Property Group Company Limited

Nautical Point Limited

Robert White

Harworth Group plc

Illiad Group

Alumier Labs UK Limited

Ascot Properties UK Limited

Better Intelligent Management Limited

Nicholson Group

Braithwaite Group

Trophy Homes Group

Mittty Group

Childwall Table and Chair Hire

C O’Dea Property Services Limited

CDM Investments Limited

222 Estates Limited

231 Hospitality Ltd

Blundellsands Investments Limited

Brooklawn Estates Limited

Roubaix Group

Pure Residential and Commercial Limited

McComb Property Company Ltd

Lloyds Bank plc

Allica Bank Ltd

Unity Trust Bank plc

Barclays Bank plc

Handelsbanken plc

Santander UK plc

Cambridge and Counties Bank Limited

Redwood Bank Ltd

HSBC Bank Plc

AIB Group (UK) Plc

Clydesdale Bank Plc

Ahli United Bank

Work highlights

  • Acting for FTS Corp (A Cayman Island registered company) in the sale of 274 Deansgate, Manchester to Whispering Smith Limited for £6,350,000. The sale was conditional on the surrender of a Lease of the third and fourth floors to GoDaddy Europe Limited.
  • Acting for Nautical Point Limited in respect of an Agreement to purchase Conwy Civic Hall by way of grant of a long lease from Conwy County Borough Council conditional on planning to redevelop Conwy Civic Hall into ground floor food hall with dining and entertainment facilities, apart hotel and residential accommodation on the upper floors.
  • Acting for Unity Trust Bank plc on a £2,150,000 loan facility to Hignett Holding Limited to facilitate the acquisition by the Borrower of its third pre-school nursery in Greater Manchester together with the refinance of the 2 existing properties in the portfolio. The transaction facilitated a provider of specialist educational facilities in the local community of Greater Manchester to extend its offering to 200 childcare places.

MSB Solicitors

The Liverpool commercial property team at MSB Solicitors displays particular strengths in development finance, regeneration, and social housing. Neil Kelly leads the practice - his areas of expertise include commercial and residential development, commercial lease transactions, and property finance. Brad Armstrong regularly acts for property developers based in the North West, advising on all aspects of acquisitons and the sales of residential housing.

Practice head(s):

Neil Kelly

Other key lawyers:

Brad Armstrong; Jack Medlicott

Key clients

X1 Developments

Legacie Developments

Fortis Developments

Oakwood Group

Young Homes

Penny Lane Builders Limited

Redwood Bank Ltd

Gemini Finance Ltd

Relendex

White Rhino Capital

Horizon

Community Housing (UK) Limited

Liver Property Group

Regenda Homes

Connect Housing

Wythenshawe Community Housing Group

Magenta Living

Peaks and Plains Housing Trust Limited

South Yorkshire Housing

Trafford Housing Trust

Shape Land and Property

Wakefield and District Housing Limited

DTM Legal LLP

DTM Legal LLP's ‘commercial, responsive and quick’ team regularly advises both regional and national clients, including landlords, tenants, developers, and investors. Practice head Anna Duffy's broad workload spans boundary disputes; breach of covenant; contentious and non-contentious business lease renewals; and recovery of land from unlawful occupiers. Samantha Hodgkinson, formerly of Hill Dickinson LLP, recently joined the firm as a consultant.

Practice head(s):

Anna Duffy

Other key lawyers:

Robert Harris; Tony Parry; Isabel Rial; Samantha Hodgkinson

Testimonials

‘The team was highly efficient at winning a difficult property case. I received all my capital and 100% of my costs, plus interest back. This required several members skilled in different disciplines to work as one.’

‘The DTM team were all personally dedicated to the task. Anna Duffy’s performance was excellent.’

‘Commercial, responsive and quick.’

‘Excellent company providing a wide range of services.’

‘The individual I deal with is very thorough and professional has concluded some very difficult lease negotiations on our behalf.’

‘I have worked with Robert Harris over the last 12 months. What makes Robert stand out to other legal professionals I have worked with in the past is his attention to detail, persistence, in-depth knowledge and in particular his accessibility. Robert always makes time for a phone call and promptly responds to all written communications.’

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