Commercial property: Newcastle in North
Led by Jonathan Combe, the real estate practice at Muckle LLP has the ‘ability to cover high volumes of work’ in acting for a significant number of commercial and residential development clients. Alongside its prominence in the property development space, the team also focuses on transactional work and portfolio management. For real estate finance mandates, the group acts alongside the firm’s banking team. Will McKay is a go-to contact for funding matters. Clients also single out ‘particularly impressive’ housebuilding expert James Armstrong and ‘exceptional’ senior associate Deborah Lazenby.
‘The team never has to be chased – it is always on top of tasks.‘
‘The firm stands out for its ability to mobilise a team of strong lawyers who can all deliver a legal service to a high standard. The commercial property team demonstrates impressive team skills and an ability to cover high volumes of work.‘
‘The team is highly client-focused and provides efficient services.‘
‘James Armstrong is particularly impressive – exceptional service with quick turnaround and consistently high quality.‘
‘Deborah Lazenby is exceptional. Her knowledge, organisational skills and attention to detail are outstanding.‘
McAleer & Rushe Group
O’Brien Group & Family
Kans and Kandy
Newcastle College Group
- Assisted MRP Land with a development forward funding agreement with AIG for a 24-storey student accommodation development.
- Advising Hays Travel on its widely reported acquisition of 555 Thomas Cook shops and up to 2,000 former Thomas Cook employees from PWC as liquidator.
- Assisting FA Parklife with a high-value nationwide scheme which is being rolled out by the Football Association.
Well known for its housebuilding expertise, Ward Hadaway has also accrued significant experience across a broad range of areas including commercial development, landlord and tenant matters, and real estate finance. Lesley Fairclough acts for commercial and residential developers and jointly heads up the team with Robin Atkin, who specialises in planning. Heather Markham is regularly instructed by clients in the retail, industrial, leisure and charitable sectors. The team often acts in conjunction with the firm’s banking and construction groups in relation to real estate finance instructions; Simon Errington is recommended in this space.
‘We have maintained a close working relationship with Ward Hadaway for over 10 years. The team consistently provides accurate information, on the basis of which we are then able to make informed decisions in a timely manner.‘
‘The practice provides good services and professional advice within good response times.‘
‘Simon Errington remains in contact in order to stay updated with our internal developments, which then allows the team to use that information to our advantage within the local market place.‘
Newcastle International Airport
Inn Collection Group
The Northumberland Estates
- Carried out all legal real estate-related work in respect of Northumberland Estates’ acquisition and subsequent development of the Willowburn Retail Park in Alnwick.
- Acted for Elddis Transport Consett on the purchase of an existing haulage site in Nottinghamshire which was being sold by the administrator of the previous owner.
- Acted for Inn Collection Group on its acquisition of five hotels, including The Waterhead Hotel on Coniston Water, The Queens Hotel at Ambleside and The Pheasant Inn at Bassenthwaite.
Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has a strong full-service offering in the region, but also draws upon the firm’s wider network across the UK in acting for household names nationwide. The team's areas of sector-specific expertise include energy, chemicals, education, automotive, retail and transport. Property finance specialist John Ralph and housing expert Nigel Emmerson jointly lead the department. John Booth has extensive experience acting on regeneration projects, portfolio management in the higher education sector, and development projects.
‘Efficient, strong team with broad experience. Excellent communications.’
‘Nigel Emmerson and Tom Willows provide great service and client support.’
‘One of the best firms of lawyers I have ever worked with.’
South Tees Development Corporation
The Vista PRS Fund
- Acted for Hearthstone Residential Fund 1 L.P. on multiple portfolio purchases comprising 190 new build plots.
- Assisted South Tees Development Corporation with the acquisition of Tata Steel’s landholdings, as well as with a range of estate management matters and new development schemes and disposals.
- Assisted Tarras Park Properties, part of Buccleuch Group, with the purchase of Lloyds Court and 52-60 Grey Street situated in Newcastle’s city centre.
Sintons LLP’s ‘efficient and professional’ practice has a well-established reputation in commercial real estate. The team has particular strength in the healthcare sector, where it acts for specialist care providers and professional partnerships, while also serving on the panels of multiple NHS trusts. Another area of focus for the team is commercial and residential development, on which it is regularly instructed by housebuilders and developers in the retail, hospitality and healthcare industries. Development specialist Mark Dobbin sits at the helm of the department.
‘The personal touch is really appreciated – you deal with the same lawyer throughout the deal. The team is also efficient and professional at all times.’
‘Associate Chris Jackson has been very helpful on a number of property sales. Chris is always there when you need to be updated, making sure the deal gets over the finish line.‘
Newcastle Building Society
- Advised Gainford Hotels in respect of the acquisition by way of sale and short term leaseback of listed historic city centre Crown Court buildings.
- Acting for the Storey Family on the £8m sale and preparation for the sale of two significant parcels of farmland.
- Acting for Sansec Developments on acquisition and development matters relating to the development of part of a former hotel.
The Newcastle-based real estate team at Weightmans benefits from its national law firm status, following the firm’s acquisition of Watson Burton LLP in 2019. Led by Naren Deen, the group has had recent success on the built environment front, where it has acted on multiple high-value site acquisitions and development schemes. Other sectors of recent growth for the practice include energy and utilities, education and social housing.
Pax Christie Catholic Partnership
Gosforth Federated Academies
- Assisted the Morton Group with the refinancing of Eagle Star House, with a landlord residential development scheme.
- Assisted a statutory undertaker with the drafting of a legal framework and respective documents for a multimillion pound development of a battery storage and gas generation site involving more than 600 potential development sites.
- Acted for the Morton Group in relation to a joint venture for the acquisition of a prominent former Newcastle hospital site, with a new housing scheme.
The team at DWF has extensive experience acting for public and private sector clients on development and regeneration projects, for which both practice head Adam Heather and housing specialist Lee Pickett are go-to contacts. Other areas of expertise include portfolio management, real estate finance, and landlord and tenant matters.
Other key lawyers:
Hay & Kilner
Hay & Kilner places an emphasis on property acquisitions and disposals, landlord and tenant matters, and property finance, among other matters. Led by practice head Nicola Tiffen, the commercial property department often works alongside the firm’s corporate and insolvency teams on the property aspects of corporate transactions and insolvency-related procedures. The team's sector-specific expertise includes healthcare, education, leisure and retail.
Park Lane Healthcare
Cornish Bakehouse UK
International Centre for Life
Lambert Smith Hampton Group
- Acting for newly formed restaurant Viehard in connection with the acquisition of two leasehold properties, the entry into agreements for lease and other related matters.
- Assisting Cornish Bakehouse UK with lettings as well as other landlord and tenant matters.
- Assisting Anvil Homes with multiple property transactions, a conditional agreement on a development site and a number of plot sales.
DAC Beachcroft LLP
DAC Beachcroft LLP's real estate department in Newcastle is jointly led by residential development expert and consultant Duncan Fisher and legal directors Nicola Fairbairn and Andrea Proudlock. The team forms part of the firm’s wider real estate group, operating across the northern region of the UK. In the private sector, the team handles matters relating to strategic acquisitions and disposals, development issues, and asset management transactions. In the public sector, the practice works with healthcare and education clients.
‘I find the DAC Newcastle office extremely responsive and capable of working to tight deadlines. They really have an understanding of their client’s needs and are able to call upon a national network of knowledge and experience to find solutions during negotiations. They have a pragmatic approach, which fits well with how we like to do business.’
‘I would follow Nicola Fairbairn to any firm she practised in, as her positive attitude and capacity for hard work gives me confidence that even the most difficult and confrontational negotiations will be resolved with a positive outcome.’
‘I worked with Catherine Burns for the first time recently and was very impressed by her knowledge (and her ability to communicate it when put on the spot in an instantly understandable way), the quality of her written communication, and the speed at which she was able to complete tasks. In the absence of her senior team member she gave every confidence that she was in complete control of matters. This is not always the case when some associates seem to be holding the fort.’
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Newcastle Systems Management
Newcastle City Council
Cygnet Health Care
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
The Trustees of the Kane Pension Fund
- Advised Newcastle University on the strategic acquisition of the Centre for Ageing Vitality.
- Acting for a public limited company in the housebuilding sector in relation to the high-value acquisition and development of its new national office headquarters.
- Advising the Go-Ahead Group on the strategic acquisition of additional land at the Metro Riverside to support the existing depot on the adjacent site.
Mincoffs Solicitors LLP
The recent work of Mincoffs Solicitors LLP showcases its established strength in large-scale, city-centre development schemes, both residential and non-residential. Praised for providing 'clear and succinct advice every time', the team is also adept at handling investment property portfolio work. Residential development expert Ryan Bannon heads up the practice.
Other key lawyers:
‘Clear and succinct advice every time‘
‘Mincoffs’ team remains relatively small but often performs and compares favourably against larger opponents. In my experience, Mincoffs uses smaller teams and better understands your business and commercial goal.‘
The High Street Group
- Assisted The High Street Group with the purchase of a two-phase development on Kent Street.
- Advised The High Street Group on the acquisition of a PRS/ build-to-rent site in Milton Keynes.
Short Richardson & Forth
Short Richardson & Forth is well equipped to handle property transactions as well as landlord and tenant issues. Led by Paul Earnshaw, the team acts for owner-managed property companies and high-net-worth individuals. Mark Stephenson has niche expertise in the purchase of land for development purposes, among other areas.
Other key lawyers: