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Firms To Watch: Commercial property: Newcastle

Led by health real estate expert Andrea Proudlock - , who joined from DAC Beachcroft LLP - and supported by senior associate Richard Hartis, Hill Dickinson LLP’s healthcare real estate team, formed in July 2022, focuses on sales, disposals, leasings and developments for NHS foundations trusts. The pair collaborate with practitioners in the Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle offices to advise clients on lease agreements for the expansion of healthcare facilities and resources across the country.

Commercial property: Newcastle in North

Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP’s real estate team frequently provides property developers, house builders, occupiers and owners with commercial and residential development advice, as well as portfolio management assistance. Practice head Jonathan Combe regularly advises clients in the healthcare, renewable energy and leisure sectors on acquisitions, developments, lettings and forward fundings. Will McKay takes on acquisitions, forward funding, planning consent and construction mandates, in particular. Gail Bennett is a go-to figure for real estate finance advice, while James Armstrong notably deals with transactions involving housing, commercial and residential sites. Deborah Lazenby focuses on property finance, multiple occupier and investment work.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Combe

Other key lawyers:

Will McKay; Gail Bennett; James Armstrong; Deborah Lazenby


‘The team is very responsive to client requirements with extensive knowledge of the social housing sector.’

Key clients

McAleer & Rushe

Home Group

Kans and Kandy

Persimmon plc

Mandale Group

Sandman Hotels

Gentoo Group


Port of Blyth

Newcastle College Group

Connection Flooring

Advance Northumberland

Maddison Cairn

Luxury Leisure


Tarras Park Properties

Vaulkhard Group

Barratt Homes

Work highlights

  • Advised Maddison Cairn on the forward funding of a Build-to-rent scheme comprising 374 homes as well as 94 affordable homes in Bristol acquired by Grainger plc.
  • Assisted Home Group with its acquisition, planning consent, development and construction package for Woodlesford, Leeds.
  • Supported Monkwearmouth Development Limited with its acquisition, development, letting and forward funding of Monkwearmouth Hospital.

Ward Hadaway LLP

House builders, commercial developers, occupiers, and investors active across a range of sectors – including the industrials, logistics, office and leisure spaces – regularly call upon Ward Hadaway LLP’s real estate team, steered by Lesley Fairclough and Robin Atkin. Other key figures include Nick Gholkar, who advises public sector bodies on critical infrastructure redevelopment projects; Neil Smith, who works with clients in the education sector on site acquisitions and developments; and Sophie Bohill, who notably supports clients on the purchase of commercial and residential development sites. Healthcare clients, such as a number of NHS trust foundations, turn to Saji Bratch for assistance with a range of property matters, including leasing, licensing and funding arrangements. Heather Markham is a key contact for supermarket chains seeking advice on complex acquisitions and development agreements. Alex Wright is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Robin Atkin; Lesley Fairclough

Other key lawyers:

Heather Markham; Sophie Bohill; Saji Bratch; Alex Wright; Neil Smith; Nick Gholkar


‘Very proactive, professional and pragmatic. Easy to work with and good communication skills.’

‘Excellent advice provided.’

‘Nick Gholkar is excellent.’

‘To me, Ward Hadaway is a modern, open and engaging business. They have very broad range of legal experience with considerable depth in those areas I’ve engaged with previously. My focus has always been housebuilding and their expertise in this area is second to none, in my opinion. I’ve certainly not come across another business that I’ve been tempted to use since working with Ward Hadaway.’

‘I regularly recommend Ward Hadaway to others as they are exceptional in comparison to many other firms I’ve come across.’

‘I always feel as though I’m a special customer despite the fact I am a relatively small business, whilst there is a disarming modesty from members of the Ward Hadaway team.’

‘Sophie Bohill is an exceptional lawyer who has a great balance of legal knowledge, commercial acumen and communication skills that cuts through the noise. She provides pragmatic advice and solutions that suit my business requirements.’

Key clients

Darlington Borough Council

City of Sunderland College

Story Homes Limited

BDW Trading Limited

Countryside Partnerships

Newcastle International Airport Limited

Bannatyne Group

Northumberland Estates

Lanchester Wine Cellars Limited

Barclays Bank Plc

Work highlights

  • Advised Darlington Borough Council and Tees Valley Combined Authority on all aspects of the redevelopment of Darlington Station.
  • Assisted City of Sunderland College with the acquisition of a 5.7 acre leasehold site for the development of a college campus in Ashington, Northumberland.
  • Acted for Story Homes Limited in their conditional exchange of contracts involving the need for complex off-site easement arrangements and construction documents.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP advises high-profile regional and national clients across both the public and private sector on the development of large-scale residential sites, as well as the full gamut of commercial property instructions. Nigel Emmerson, who heads up the housing group, is the key contact for residential property matters. Real estate team leader John Ralph is a specialist in property finance, working on high value refinancings of commercial portfolios for institutional investors, and advising clients on development loans for construction purposes. Michael Brown - a member of the finance and investment team - assists energy suppliers, leisure companies and property investors with acquisitions, leases, deeds and disposals. Tom Willows is a key contact for developers, investors and registered providers seeking advice on property developments and planning conditions, while Chris Ledgerwood focuses on leasehold and enfranchisement matters. Emma Garfit, Nicola Guss and Jennifer Smith are further key names to note. Legal director Liz Evans is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Nigel Emmerson; John Ralph

Other key lawyers:

Michael Brown; Tom Willows; Emma Garfit; Chris Ledgerwood; Emma Garfit; Nicola Guss; Jennifer Smith; Liz Evans


‘WBD know exactly how to operate and what is important to us.’ 

‘Nigel Emmerson is always available to field queries or recommend specialists in other areas.’

‘Chris Ledgerwood runs the day-to-day relationship. He is very technical, commercially focused and always happy to deal with ad hoc queries.’

Key clients

Grainger plc

Bellway Homes plc

South Tees Corporation and Teesworks

The Vista PRS Fund

Arriva plc

Standard Life

Govia Thameslink

Karbon Homes Limited

Hansteen Holdings plc

Hearthstone Residential Fund

Work highlights

  • Advising the South Tees Development Corporation on the delivery of several key projects, which involves the option to draw down long-term leases.
  • Acted for Northern Powergrid Plc on multiple acquisitions, leases, deeds and disposals.
  • Supported Acland Homes Limited on setting up joint venture arrangements with land owners to facilitate key residential property developments in the North East.


The real estate team at DWF regularly advises a mix of clients operating in the retail, energy, minerals, mines and ports sectors with advice on forward funding developments. The practice is headed up by Richard Lomax, a specialist in high-value investments and portfolio transactions. Adam Heather focuses on regeneration projects involving public and private sector clients, and also works on acquisitions, disposals and financing deals related to renewable energy assets. Mark Tait supports clients with the development of retail parks, while Lee Pickett is a key port of call for the team's public sector clients. Kelly Pearson and Oliver Lovett, who respectively focus on social housing and property finance matters, are additionally recommended.

Practice head(s):

Richard Lomax

Other key lawyers:

Adam Heather; Mark Tait; Lee Pickett; Kelly Pearson; Oliver Lovett


‘The team are professional, responsive, and deliver the necessary solutions.’

‘Richard Lomax goes above and beyond.’

‘Oliver Lovett is just first class in every aspect of the work he does for us.’

Key clients

Advance Northumberland

Cable Properties & Investments

Corum XL

Hanro Group

Hargreaves Group

Hartlepool Borough Council

Homes England

The London Borough of Haringey

Northumberland Estates

Places for People

The Riverside Group Ltd

Royal Borough of Greenwich


West Lindsey District Council

Work highlights

  • Advised Corum XL on the acquisition of four care homes, amounting to £200 million.
  • Advising Hargreaves Group on the acquisition of a multi-let office building.
  • Supported Northumberland Estates Ltd with the acquisition and development of properties.

Sintons LLP

Sintons LLP is the first port of call for a number of healthcare clients seeking advice on the management of national care facility portfolios, including site acquisitions, developments, finances and disposals. The real estate team also sits on the panel of various banks. Turned to by both commercial and residential developers, team head Mark Dobbin is experienced in dealing with development matters concerning energy, waste and natural resources. As head of the faith-based institutions team, Laura Peace is the key contact for churches, charities and property investors, while Alok Loomba focuses on tax driven property and group restructuring transactions, as well as refinancings. David Ferguson is an expert on real estate finance, while Tom Wills is a specialist in rural land, diversification and farm acquisitions. Paul Liddle, Catherine Davies and Chris Jackson are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Mark Dobbin

Other key lawyers:

Laura Peace; Alok Loomba; Paul Liddle; David Ferguson; Tom Wills; Catherine Davies; Chris Jackson


‘Sintons offers our business a broad scope of specialist legal support.’

‘Mark Dobbin and his commercial property team with its steady approach gives us negotiation confidence.’

Key clients

Partner Construction Limited

Northumberland Estates Development Limited

Tynemouth Developments Limited

Park Lets Limited

Malhotra Group PLC

Cussins Limited

Morgan Grey Limited

Highbridge Commercial Limited

Chaloner Group Ltd

Sansec Developments Ltd

North Tees Limited

Keeping Inn Limited

Phil Farmer

Charles and Lorraine Hanson

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Church Commissioners for England in respect of their estate on a national basis. Assets include high profile city centre London assets worth over £100M.
  • Acting for a major regeneration specialist property company in respect of high value acquisitions for commercial and residential development projects.
  • Acting for a property developer client in respect of acquisitions of retail development sites, involving multiple parties, the grant of intervening leases and an investment operating lease.

DAC Beachcroft LLP

DAC Beachcroft LLP advises a range of clients, including businesses, central government departments and local authorities on commercial property matters. Real estate practice head Nicola Fairbairn acts for commercial investors and developers across the public and private sectors, advising on the development of land and project management of large transactions. Fairbairn is supported by Catherine Burns, who is especially well versed in large-scale development deals.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Fairbairn

Other key lawyers:

Catherine Burns


‘Nicola Fairbairn keeps the client updated and responds to requests in a timely manner.’

Key clients

Surrey County Council

Northumbria NHS Trust FT

University of Durham

University of Newcastle

Department for Education

Go Ahead Group plc


Bryant Homes

Newcastle Building Society

Newcastle City Council

Work highlights

  • Acting for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust on acquisitions and asset management.
  • Advising Durham University on the strategic acquisition of a recently developed office scheme in the heart of Durham city centre.
  • Acting on the disposal of Go-Ahead’s former bus depot premises at Stanley, Co Durham for a prospective development.

Hay & Kilner

With the arrival of Jonathan Bone from Square One Law in November 2022, Hay & Kilner continues to expand its commercial property service, advising house builders and property developers on site developments, acquisitions and managements. Team head Nicola Tiffen notably works with investors on retail sector commercial property investments, and also possesses niche expertise in healthcare sector leasing arrangements. John Morgan is a key port of call for clients seeking advice on mixed-use developments. Jennifer Boynton is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Tiffen

Other key lawyers:

John Morgan; Jonathan Bone; Jennifer Boynton


‘Hay & Kilner is simply the best law firm in the North East. The firm provides commercial property legal services under one roof.’

‘John Morgan is very kind, personal, prompt and professional. John responds with a response within an hour or two at max.’

‘Jonathan Bone is very particular and I can vouch for the fact that Jonathan does read the small print for his clients!’

Key clients

Park Lane Healthcare

Dallas Carpets Limited

Westway Vets

Hellens Group

Northumberland Wildlife Trust

Anvil Homes

Power by Britishvolt Properties Limited

JT Dove

Schlegel Limited

Apartment Group

Hanover Dairies

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of Monument Real Estate Management Ltd for the acquisition of the Gosforth Shopping Centre.
  • Acting on behalf of Park Lane Healthcare in relation to a significant sale and lease back transaction incorporating 6 substantial care homes with a total of 315 beds.
  • Acting on behalf of Schlegel Limited in connection with a conditional agreement for lease and lease of a large industrial unit in Newton Aycliffe.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP’s real estate team routinely advises property developers on the purchase, sale, letting and financing of mixed-use commercial and residential properties. Clients in the retail and hospitality sectors regularly call upon the firm for assistance with lease managements and strategic acquisitions. The experienced practice head Ryan Bannon acts for developers, occupiers and investors in the North East. Leanne Kettlewell works closely with the corporate and property litigation teams, providing advice on property M&A deals. Claire Catterson is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Ryan Bannon

Other key lawyers:

Leanne Kettlewell; Claire Catterson


‘Great team of passionate and knowledgeable people, which I am always happy to recommend to clients.’

‘A one-stop shop! Able to deliver on all legal matters that arise throughout a transaction, taking away the need for third party legal assistance.’

‘Ryan Bannon and Leanne Kettlewell are highly experienced and able to use each other’s extensive knowledge to deliver a seamless experience even when transactions are not straightforward.’

Key clients

The Works Stores Limited

Northern Bear Plc

L.B. Foster Europe

Fordinghall Limited

Lugano Group

Derwent Manor Ventures Limited

Onitt Limited

British Engines Limited

Victors Restaurants Limited

East Coast Concepts

Anglo Scottish Asset Finance

The Inn Collection Group

Ascot Care Group

Port Homes


Work highlights

  • Acting for Lugano Group on their nationwide property portfolio.
  • Advised The Works Stores on its nationwide portfolio of over 500 retail stores.
  • Advised The Inn Collection Group on the purchase of two new hotel sites in Yorkshire and Northumberland.


Weightmans‘ real estate team advises high-profile clients in the utilities, energy and hospitality sectors on easement matters and development agreements, as well as freehold and leasehold acquisitions and sales. Practice head David Tabinor, who splits his time between the firm’s offices in Newcastle and Liverpool, is noted for his expertise in retail and leisure sector work. Tabinor is supported by Daniel Baker and Nicole Tanfield.

Practice head(s):

David Tabinor

Other key lawyers:

Daniel Baker; Nicole Tanfield

Key clients

Northern Powergrid

Newcastle Tool & Gauge

Northern Trust Company

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Northern Powergrid in connection with all aspects of its real estate requirements.
  • Advised Newcastle Tool & Gauge Limited in connection with the acquisition of a fifteen-year lease on a new building.
  • Assisting Northern Trust Company with the estate management of its North East property portfolio.