Commercial property: Newcastle in North

Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP is the go-to firm for real estate clients in the education and sport sectors, alongside its more general real estate offering; and was appointed to the Crown Commercial Service panel in 2018, cementing its reputation with public sector clients. The group is instructed on transactions, portfolio management and joint ventures. Jonathan Combe leads the team, which includes David Towns (who joined from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP in 2018) and transactional lawyer Gail Bennett.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Combe

Other key lawyers:

Gail Bennett; Will McKay; David Towns; James Armstrong


Excellent, pragmatic and knowledgeable service and good understanding of real estate in the North East of England

Jonathan Combe and James Armstrong in particular provide an exceptional service in term of advice, accuracy and speed of response

The diversity of expertise in the firm means that, as a collective, they can cover a wide spectrum of legal advice and disciplines

Key clients

McAleer & Rushe Group

Home Group

Newcastle University

Mandale Group

Arriva plc

Work highlights

  • Acted for McAleer & Rushe Group on a forward funding of The Gate, Furnival Square, Sheffield with Curlew Capital & Curlew Student Trust.
  • Acted for Metnor Group on the sale of the Grade II listed Generator Studios building in Newcastle city centre to Vengrove Group.
  • Advised O’Brien Aggregate Marsden in its acquisition of Marsden Quarry, saving around 30 jobs put at risk following the collapse of civil engineering firm, Owen Pugh.
  • Acted for Home Group (fourth largest provider of social housing in the UK) to agree facilities and perfect security on its latest funding run.
  • Instructed by the World Wheel Company on all real estate, corporate and financing matters in relation to the proposed development of Europe’s tallest observation wheel on Newcastle Quayside.

Ward Hadaway

The team at Ward Hadaway has a diverse practice, advising housebuilders, commercial developers, occupiers and investors and public sector clients on the spectrum of real estate matters, supported by a dedicated real estate finance group. The group is co-led by property development expert Lesley Fairclough and planning specialist Robin AtkinHeather Markham is recommended for commercial property work, with particular expertise in the charitable sector.

Practice head(s):

Lesley Fairclough; Robin Atkin

Other key lawyers:

Alex Cox; Alex Wright; Simon Errington; Helen O’Neill; Saji Bratch; Neil Smith; Sophie Bohill; Heather Markham


Exceptional service levels

Lesley Fairclough and Heather Markham stand out as exceptional individuals, both providing a personal element to the working relationship

Alex Cox has a telepathic understanding of his clients’ requirements and communicates his advice with absolute clarity in relation to their commercial drivers

Key clients

Keepmoat Homes

BDW Trading Limited (Barratt Homes)

Newcastle International Airport

Bannatyne Group

Aldi Stores

Work highlights

  • For Forrest Park (Newton Aycliffe), a proposed joint venture development of a 116-acre site for industrial use in a strategic location next to the A1(M). The development has been projected to bring an economic boost of £495m to County Durham and to deliver 3,200 jobs to the region.
  • Acts for BDW Trading Limited (Barratt Homes) on the majority of their acquisition, development and strategic land deals in the north of England.
  • Sale of a Travelodge hotel investment and adjoining hotel development for Union Retail Properties by way of a development funding arrangement to the same institutional plc investor.
  • Acted for Story Homes in its joint purchase with another house builder of a large residential development site comprising circa 300 houses and associated access, landscaping and public open space.
  • Acting for Keepmoat Homes on the majority of its site acquisitions in the North East, most notably its partnering arrangements with Newcastle City Council and its unique partnership with Durham County Council.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Drawing on its status as an international firm, the team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is able to handle flagship real estate deals across the North East, advising national housebuilders, residential landlords, property funds and other corporate clients. The group is led by John Ralph, who is instructed by owners and occupiers of investment, development and operational real estate assets. Managing associate John Booth is noted for expertise in the education and energy sectors.

Practice head(s):

John Ralph

Other key lawyers:

Barbara Painter; Ian Ward; Michael Brown; John Booth; Tom Willows


A very joined up and well organised team

The team builds up good relationships with advisers acting on the other side

Easy people to work with, who can explain complex issues in an accessible manner

Key clients

Grainger plc

Bellway Homes plc


The Vista PRS Fund

Hansteen Holdings plc

Work highlights

  • Advised Middlesbrough Council on a multimillion-pound advanced manufacturing park in the Tees Valley.
  • Acted for three major SIPP/SSAS providers on c.300 individual property instructions. These instructions include acquisitions, disposals, leases, renewals and surrenders and all landlord licences for commercial properties held within a personal or corporate pension wrapper. The transactions range in value from £50k to £7m.
  • For Buccleuch Property Group, sale of 55 Degrees North, Newcastle upon Tyne for £5,395,000 to Tarras Properties Limited – the owners of the old Bank of England site.


DWF's team utilises its strong national presence to advise regional and national clients on the spectrum of real estate matters in the North East, including investment and property portfolio management; regeneration and development projects; landlord and tenant issues; and housing-related projects. Practice head Adam Heather has particular expertise in finance and funding for public and private sector real estate projects, while Lee Pickett is a housing expert.

Practice head(s):

Adam Heather

Other key lawyers:

Lee Pickett; Jonathan Smith

Key clients

Advance Northumberland/Ascent Homes

Hanro Group

The Northumberland Estates

Newcastle College

Stockton Borough, Darlington Borough, Sunderland City Councils

Work highlights

  • Acting for a Luxembourg-based real estate fund in the purchase of a £140m office portfolio and the immediate sub-sale of £80m of the assets.
  • Acting for LXi Reit plc in the forward funding of £75m of hotel and retail assets.
  • Acting for The Northumberland Estates in the sale of three industrial estates.

Sintons LLP

Sintons LLP's team is pre-eminent in healthcare sector real estate, including landlord-tenant and development work for professional partnerships, national NHS trusts and care providers. Other areas of expertise are real estate finance, residential and commercial development, portfolio management, leisure and the agricultural sectors, while Paul Liddle has developed a niche in ecclesiastical property law alongside more traditional development and investment projects. Mark Dobbin leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Mark Dobbin

Other key lawyers:

Paul Liddle; Alok Loomba; Tom Wills; David Ferguson; Laura Peace

Key clients

The Church Commissioners for England

Cussins (North East)

Sansec Developments

Malhotra Group Plc

Crown Care Group

Work highlights

  • Conditional acquisition of residential development site for Cussins (North East) to facilitate larger development of circa 580 dwellings.
  • Acting for Sansec Developments in respect of the acquisition of a development site for a retail development scheme.
  • Acting for Malhotra Group Plc in the acquisition of a prominent city centre investment purchase.
  • Acting for Highbridge Commercial Limited in the acquisition of a number of let investment commercial properties.
  • Acting for Gainford Hotels Limited in the acquisition of a key city centre hotel site and dealing with a redevelopment of the same.


Weightmans' key areas of expertise include commercial and residential development; secured lending and banking support; real estate support in corporate transactions; investment; portfolio management and education and healthcare sector real estate issues. Department head Naren Deen specialises in property investment and secured lending, and has vast experience in regeneration schemes.

Practice head(s):

Naren Deen

Other key lawyers:

Helen Stenton; Richard Phillips


Naren Deen is highly diligent, knowledgeable & provides reassurance when dealing with the transaction

The team is easy to deal with, quick to respond, and very detailed in its knowledge

Key clients

Stockton Riverside College

Lok Developments

Gosforth Federated Academies

Northern Trust Company

Advanced Electronics

Work highlights

  • Negotiation of Lok Developments’ contract and transfer with Newcastle City Council (“NCC”) including negotiation of release of restrictive covenants and a carve out in the transfer permitting the client to develop Eagle Star House in accordance with its development proposals.
  • In addition to transactional tasks, the team reviewed complex subsisting PFI arrangements to inform a risk analysis for discussion with Gosforth Federated Academies (GFA). Following a period of comprehensive due diligence it negotiated the terms of a Schools Agreement that sets out the scope of GFA’s commercial obligations.
  • Assisting Morton Group at all stages of the development cycle, from lock-out / exclusivity agreements to due diligence, site acquisition and funding, though to plot sales and ground rent disposal.
  • Academy conversion on behalf of Valley Road Community Primary School and Highfield Community Primary School for Iris Learning Trust.
  • Undertook due diligence on the title to a premises and negotiated, settled and completed a lease of the new premises subject to major landlord’s refurbishment works.

Hay & Kilner

Hay & Kilner's department is regularly instructed on transactions, as well as landlord-tenant matters, joint ventures and real estate finance. The group's clients include an array of regional owner-managed businesses, but the group also assists major developers, educational establishments and healthcare providers. Healthcare sector expert Nicola Tiffen leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Nicola Tiffen

Other key lawyers:

Richard Freeman-Wallace; Chris Anderson


Chris Anderson is highly effective and efficient

Nicola Tiffin is the best commercial property lawyer in the north

By far the best law firm for commercial property purchases and leases

Key clients

Persimmon Homes

Park Lane Healthcare

Hellens Group

Pinlee Investments

International Centre for Life

Work highlights

  • Instructed to act on behalf of the International Centre for Life in respect of commercial property work at the Centre for Life in Newcastle.
  • Advised PLH Moorgate Holdco on a hive-up of three care home businesses into the immediate group parent company and an associated bank refinancing, including coordinating property and employment implications of the transfer, and liaising with the client on CQC registration issues.
  • Continuing to advise Cornish Bakehouse UK in relation to lettings and other landlord and tenant matters.
  • The negotiation of an agreement for Hellens Residential Limited for the construction and purchase on a phased basis of 50 units within a residential development in Stockton on Tees.
  • Two acquisitions of adjoining property for S & B EPS Limited, both at short notice and one from the seller’s administrators.

Short Richardson & Forth

Short Richardson & Forth has an active client list of owner-managed property companies, advising on sales, purchases, and new and renewed leases. The group is led by Paul Earnshaw, who specialises in investment property transactions and commercial tenant-landlord issues. Experienced in assisting offshore property investment companies, developers and industrial landlords, Mark Stephenson joined the team from Mark Swatts Morse in June 2018.

Practice head(s):

Paul Earnshaw

Other key lawyers:

Mark Stephenson; Peter Hall; Chris Morgan


The firm has many good lawyers, often joining with experience of larger practices

The team is pro-active, able to solve problems and approachable

Paul Earnshaw is a commercial property lawyer of immense experience & is a first port of call for sound, practical, efficient & cost effective advice

Key clients

Peter Stevens Estates

Wordie Properties

Planning Gain

Harrow Consulting

DC Assets

Work highlights

  • Acting for Wordie Properties on the purchase on practical completion of a newly built retail park in Skelton North Yorkshire with tenants including B&M and Greggs plc.
  • Sale of a multi-let business park in North-West England for Peter Stevens Estates.
  • A sale of part of a plot owned by Trevor Hanover to a development company subsequent to a promotion agreement.
  • Purchase of new-build industrial unit in Huyton, Liverpool for Peter Stevens Estates.
  • Sale of an 18,000 sq ft tenanted office with the benefit of planning permission for redevelopment for Wordie Properties.

DAC Beachcroft LLP

DAC Beachcroft LLP's Newcastle offices support the firm's national network on the spectrum of real estate matters across the country. The group, which is led by housebuilding sector expert Duncan Fisher (who joined from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP in February 2018), advises private commercial clients, in addition to public and private healthcare operators, local authorities and educational establishments.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Fisher

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Fairbairn; Andrea Proudlock

Key clients


Royal Mail Group

Newcastle University

Newcastle Building Society

Newcastle City Council

Work highlights

  • Represented Lendlease in relation to asset management and property development transactions.
  • Representing Newcastle Building Society in relation to a lease of a building which consisted of a previous Society branch, which was to be occupied by a food and drink retail organisation.
  • Advised an NHS foundation trust in connection with a Second Generation Estates Outsourcing.
  • Acting for the University of Sheffield in relation to its strategic occupation of a parcel of land on a hospital site for development.
  • Acting on the sale of surplus property at a decommissioned hospital for United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust for both retail and residential development.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP

Focuses for the team at Mincoffs Solicitors LLP include property finance, corporate funding, redevelopment leases, buying and selling commercial real estate and managing investment portfolios. The team is led by tranactional lawyer Ryan Bannon, who is instructed by developers, investors, commercial occupiers and retailers.

Practice head(s):

Ryan Bannon

Other key lawyers:

Malcolm Wood; Claire Catterson; Rebecca Dawson

Key clients

High Street Group

Lugano Group

Gort Properties

Chrome Classic Investments

Work highlights

  • Advised High Street Group in connection with facilities to be used in connection with two high-profile, mixed-use development projects in the North West.
  • Advising property developer All Saints Living in connection with facilities for the acquisition of a residential development site.
  • Community acquisition of Ye Olde Cross Pub by Ryton Cross Community Society (RCCS).