Rising Stars

Firms To Watch: Commercial property: Essex

John Fowlers LLP has expanded its work in residential, commercial and mixed-use development projects as well as its lending work. Practice head Benjamin Carver was recently promoted to partner and has significant development project expertise.

Commercial property: Essex in South East

Birkett Long LLP

The team at Birkett Long LLP, which is spread between the offices in Chelmsford and Colchester, continues to assist housebuilders of varying size with acquisitions and site set-ups, as well as plot sales and financings. Sector expertise for the group includes the environmental, education and finance sectors, and Melanie Bache‘s expertise lies within investment transactions. Elsewhere on the transactional side, practice head Emma Wraight handles strategic land matters, including option and overage agreements, as well as landlord and tenant act matters, and Justin Stock focuses on handling the sale and purchase of commercial real estate.

Practice head(s):

Emma Wraight

Other key lawyers:

Daniel Sturman; Melanie Bache; Justin Stock; Peter Allan

Testimonials

‘Capable of dealing with all problems in a professional and efficient manner whilst retaining a high degree of personal consideration to each problem.’

‘As a company we have used Peter Allan to resolve a number of disputes. His guidance has always been found to be well reasoned, thought out, sensible and commercial with his clients interests as his upmost priority. Daniel Sturman has completed numerous property transactions on our behalf and has met every deadline that he has needed to meet even in the most trying circumstances.’

‘I have always been very pleased with the advice and service from I have received from all members of the team at Birkett Long.’

‘Daniel Sturman has been outstanding for our needs at our business.You always get a straight answer and quick answer, just how we like to work.’

Key clients

Colchester Institute

MS UK Ltd

Farleigh Hospice

University of Essex

St Helena Hospice Limited

Etopia Eastry Limited

Etopia Ashley Limited

Stubbings Investment Holdings Limited

Stubbings Land Development Limited

Evelyn Court (Deptford) LLP

Kent Blaxill and Co Limited

Healthcare Homes Group Ltd

Institute of Customer Service

Laurels and Sydney House Surgery

Hichens Properties Limited

Highest Level Limited

BEW Electrical Distributors Limited

T Rippon & Sons (Holdings) Limited

T Rippon Estates Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Group and its subsidiaries on various acquisitions of development land.
  • Advised Stubbings Land Development Limited on the sale of approx. 180 acres of land for residential development.
  • Advised Colchester Institute on Deeds of Surrender and new 40-year leases of theatre buildings from Colchester Borough Council.

Birketts LLP

Led by Grace Kerr in Chelmsford, practitioners at Birketts LLP have notable experience in acting for developers and investors on sale and lease work in addition to high-value landlord and tenant mandates both regionally and nationally. Steven Kay also heads up a sub-team dedicated to acting for housebuilders. Leveraging Kerr’s strategic land expertise, the group also offers clients access to a dedicated sub-team in this area. A strong reputation in investment and portfolio management mandates is also a standout feature of the team.

Practice head(s):

Grace Kerr

Other key lawyers:

Steven Kay; Duncan Williamson; David Springett; Johanna Cope; Matthew Grindley; Hannah Harbottle; Adele Dean

Key clients

Countryside Properties

Generator Group

Ellisons Solicitors

Ellisons Solicitors‘ fast-expanding team, based primarily in Colchester, is experienced in assisting residential and commercial developers, individual and corporate investors, charities, financial institutions, public authorities and businesses. The varied workload includes property acquisitions and disposals as well as joint ventures and consortium agreements. Practice head Philip Roberts advises clients in relation to investment sites and property portfolios; the latter being an area of strength for the firm. Adding to Robert’s significant experience is Guy Longhurst who is both managing partner and an extremely experienced commercial property lawyer, especially for commercial transactions.

Practice head(s):

Philip Roberts

Other key lawyers:

Guy Longhurst; Andrew Fernandes; Susan Ryan; Bethan Williams

Testimonials

‘They offer excellent knowledge and interpretation of our requirements.’

‘Guy Longhurst and associate Bethan Williams always respond in a timely fashion and advise realistically on the issues in hand.’

Tees Law

Split across the firm's Brentwood, Chelmsford and Saffron Walden bases, the overall team at Tees Law is headed up by Aaron Cane, who specialises in complex property development work and regeneration projects. Commercial property generalist Jane Winfield leads the Brentwood team and counts property finance, landlord and tenant, and commercial conveyancing mandates among her key areas of practice. Undertaking work which requires collaboration with the dispute resolution team is another core element of the practice. Graeme Atkinson and James Dowson lead the Chelmsford and Saffron Walden teams respectively.

Practice head(s):

Aaron Cane

Other key lawyers:

Graeme Atkinson; Jane Winfield; James Dowson

Testimonials

‘Tees Law is a large diverse company with several branches. I have had experience of several different aspects of Tees Law. My experience has been excellent. Quick responses. Easy to get hold of.’

‘Understand the legal complexities and understood that I did not have in-depth knowledge and needed their expertise.’

‘Jane Winfield has been very helpful, providing guidance with options and recommendations in a timely manner.’

‘I have found the firm provides straightforward, sensible advice on property (commercial & residential) and inheritance tax.’

‘I have used Tees Law and its derivatives for 45 years. There has always been a personal element even now when it has grown to become a large practice. There has always been a feeling that there is a person with expertise in the field I needed working on. I’ve always had a good relationship with all practitioners.’

Key clients

R.V.L. Properties Limited

William Thompson Homes Limited

Magri Developments Limited

Snowbird Property Limited

HWC Logistics Limited

Fairacres Group Limited

Chappell Estates Limited

Earl Estates Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for a consortium of landowners on the sale of 100 acres to a leading housebuilder for a sale price in excess of £55m to enable the bill of up to 1,000 new houses.
  • Acting for a developer on the purchase of a new industrial estate conditional upon planning consent for redevelopment including negotiation of easements and overage provisions.
  • Acting for a hotel and leisure sector client on a negotiation with adjoining landowners to agree land swaps in order that a significant hotel within the client’s portfolio can be redeveloped.

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP

Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP‘s ‘very personable and friendly’ commercial property team handles a wide range of work with a particular focus on land development, transactional matters and leasehold enfranchisement and lease extensions – the practice also includes in-house town planning expertise. Clients are drawn from sectors including healthcare, farming, charity and facilities management. The team is led by the ‘outstandingEllen Petersen from Colchester, working with Keeley Miller and Leon Pascal in Chelmsford.

Practice head(s):

Ellen Petersen

Other key lawyers:

Ashton Carter; Keeley Miller; Leon Pascal

Testimonials

‘Ellen Petersen, who heads up the commercial property team, has always met deadlines and is extremely efficient.’

‘I have dealt with this firm for many years and always found them excellent in providing clear and concise advice.’

‘Prompt service, knowledgeable and always available.’

Fees are very fair. We were made to feel that our business mattered to them.’

‘Ellen Petersen is one of the best individuals in the firm. To-the-point advice and a firm legal knowledge. Outstanding.’

‘Very personable and friendly, whilst delivering an excellent service.’

‘Always good advice, concise and accurate.’

Work highlights

  • Advised on sale of significant development land in Essex for £10.5m plus VAT subject to staggered finance arrangements.
  • Advised on corporate restructure involving significant asset transfer and lease surrenders to facilitate a split in business and ultimate share transfers.
  • Advised on the acquisition of commercial premises subject to occupational leases as transfer of a business as a going concern to enhance a commercial investment portfolio with value of £5.5m.

Holmes & Hills

Assisted by the firm’s specialist planning and development and construction teams, Holmes & Hills’ Marks Tey-based commercial property team is well regarded for its experience in land and development matters, advisng throughout a project’s life cycle. ‘Efficient, knowledgeable and commercial lawyer’ Philippa Jerram provides support to practice head Rebecca Mason. Symbolic of the team as a whole, Jerram advises on complex development agreements and Mason is a development and land specialist.

Practice head(s):

Rebecca Mason

Other key lawyers:

Philipa Jerram; Steven Hopkins

Testimonials

‘A one-stop shop for all legal needs. Broad range of professional experts that cover domestic and commercial disciplines across the board.’

‘My main contact is Philippa Jerram who has managed my commercial property transactions for many years. Continuity is important to me, combined with a historical knowledge of our family commercial property portfolio needs.’

‘The team explain everything in a way that we can understand rather than throwing legal jargon at us!’

‘All of our dealings with Steven Hopkins and Rebecca Mason have been conducted in a timely manner.’

‘The team have a proactive approach to their work. Communication is excellent and it is a department that presents potential solutions and not problems.’

‘Philippa Jerram is efficient, knowledgeable and commercial. Others in her team are similar. Their planning team are always on top of the constantly changing legislation and provide useful regular updates.’

Key clients

Abbeyfield Braintree Bocking & Felsted Society Ltd

ALS Labs Ltd

Ashland Developments Ltd

Blue Square Homes (Billericay) Ltd

Chelmsford Cars and Commercial

David Watson Transport Ltd

E J Taylor & Sons Ltd

Larch Housing Association

Lawrence and Wolfe Families

Mattar Estates AS – Geneva

Mersea Homes Ltd

Montare LLP

NHS South East London CCG

Payne family

Rose Builders Properties Ltd

Wilkin & Son Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Montare LLP on a range of land and development projects.
  • Advised NHS South East London Care Commissioning Group on the sale of a property worth over £5m for development.
  • Advising the majority landowner on the negotiation, drafting, agreement and subsequent variation to substantial Land Collaboration Agreements and Option Agreements relating to the proposed purchase of the consortium’s land by a national developer.

Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors

Located in Harlow, the ‘personable‘ full-service group at Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors assists clients across the South East and the team is well placed to offer advice on the tax implications of property transactions as well as strategic advice in relation to site assembly issues. Nicholas Evans, who heads up the department, is experienced in handling the property aspects of business acquisitions and sales.

Practice head(s):

Nicholas Evans

Testimonials

‘Attwaters Jameson Hill have provided a personable service to our business for many years, offering invaluable advice in the leasing process.’

‘Nick Evans has provided many years of beneficial advice and support to our business.’

BTMK Solicitors

BTMK Solicitors advises clients on issues relating to rights of light, an area in which practice head Ian Powell specialises. Powell leads the team together with Lee Emptage and Matthew Clark. The practice is spread across the firm’s Rayleigh, Southend and Leigh-on-Sea offices. The team is also notably active in lease agreement work.

Practice head(s):

Lee Emptage; Ian Powell; Matthew Clark

Testimonials

‘I mostly dealt with Lee Emptage. He is involved in a joint venture of a land/property development on our behalf which is very complicated but he has made it look so easy and explained to us all the pitfalls of the venture.’

Work highlights

  • Assisted a client with refinancing 35 properties with three different lenders in a transaction with a total value of £16m.
  • Assisted a client with an agreement for a lease and licence for development works.
  • Assisted a client with a lease from the local authority as well as redeveloping and financing of a development.

Jefferies Essex LLP

Clients instructing the Southend-on-Sea-based group at Jefferies Essex LLP span individuals and start-up businesses as well as property developers and large commercial entities. The team is headed up by Mark Hidveghy whose experience in commercial property transactions bolsters the team’s offering in this area. ‘Pragmatic and commercially minded’ lawyer Katrina Holland and Amelia Hayes are also key names to note.

Practice head(s):

Mark Hidveghy

Other key lawyers:

Katrina Holland, Amelia Hayes

Testimonials

‘Katrina Holland is pragmatic and commercially minded.’

‘A great local firm with a fantastic culture.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for a client in taking numerous leases across various parts of the country for a new project with time-critical elements.  
  • Acting for a developer on the purchase of a commercial site with development potential.
  • Acted for a developer on the purchase of mill buildings subject to 15 occupational leases, 3 lease backs to the seller and a car park lease together with negotiation on the transfer deed.

Palmers

Palmers‘ commercial property team counts the Thames Gateway area as a stronghold for its client base, although the team also assists clients nationally and internationally, utilising its combined commercial property experience throughout the team, particularly in development and regeneration work. Elena Nicolaou leads the practice jointly with Carey Jacobs from the firm’s Basildon office, and ‘technically excellent‘ associate Maisie Yau is also a key name to note.

Practice head(s):

Elena Nicolaou; Carey Jacobs

Other key lawyers:

Michelle Hill; Maisie Yau

Testimonials

‘Their knowledge of the local area is helpful and Palmers’ wide service provision means that where necessary departments can interact with good knowledge of our business to provide assistance or other relevant specialisms of the law.’

‘Michelle Hill is very responsive, knowledgeable and hardworking. Her ability to juggle competing priorities enables her to provide an excellent service.’

‘A team with significant experience in commercial property transactions.’

‘Masie Yau is fantastic – approachable, supportive and technically excellent.’

‘We have had a near 15 year connection with Palmers and have always found them proactive and genuinely interested in their clients needs. They generally always tend to be available and have the ability of converting legal jargon into understandable English.’

‘Maisie Yau navigated us through an extremely difficult lease agreement, holding her ground on our behalf.’

‘The team is fantastic, they pull together, covering all aspects of the current situation. The thing that puts Palmers at the top of the list for me is that if a new solicitor is handling something for me I know the team will give support and give background information so the new solicitor can be made fully aware of my history with Palmers.’

‘This year I have been working very closely with Michelle Hill, the work she has covered has all been linked to property sales and purchases. She is super efficient.’

Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP

At Paul Robinson Solicitors LLP, the team advises on a range of transactions including landlord and tenant matters, tenant agreements, leases agreements, deposit deeds, tenancies at will and licences to assign. The group is able to provide a holistic service, benefitting from Mark Deans‘ commercial property expertise combined with his M&A knowledge. Deans leads the team with Wendy Cole and the pair are based in Billericay and Westcliff-on-Sea respectively.

Practice head(s):

Mark Deans; Wendy Cole

Pinney Talfourd LLP

Located in Brentwood, the team at Pinney Talfourd LLP has a strong track record in dealing with properties held in pension funds. With experienced transactional and contentious lawyers, the group is well placed to assist with a diverse range of property matters, and advises both commercial landlords and tenants on Covid-19 related matters. The ‘diligent and steadyJulien Pritchard leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Julien Pritchard

Other key lawyers:

Edward Garston

Testimonials

‘Good calibre of staff and work. Good knowledge of the local market.’

‘The attention to detail and service delivery is outstanding. Pinney Talfourd were always responsive immediately.’

‘Real willingness to make sure deals are pushed through to time which is evidence of an understanding of and interest in the commercial reality of what their clients are looking to achieve.’

‘Excellent commercial practice.’

‘Julien Pritchard is diligent and steady, and has great commercial acumen.’

‘Excellent response times. Clear and concise expert advice.’

‘Sensible pragmatic approach to all commercial property matters. They offer a timely quality response on a diverse range of instructions.’

Key clients

Keech Hospice Care

Electric Playbox Limited

Ashberry Healthcare Limited

Berwen Limited

Thompson Smith and Puxon

With an office in Colchester, practitioners at Thompson Smith and Puxon have seen a steady recent increase in workload, particularly in complex and high-value work acting for landowners in strategic land planning and development matters. A recent highlight for the team in this area includes advising on strategic land projects with end development values over £100m. Practice head Stephen Firmin is commended as ‘an excellent commercial lawyer‘, and Kerry Addison specialises in developments and rural property issues.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Firmin

Other key lawyers:

Kerry Addison; Mark Rowlands

Testimonials

‘The team was able to complete complicated property agreements and contracts for sale with thorough efficiency and without unnecessary delay. There was also a significant element of diplomacy required which was handled with care and understanding.’

‘Kerry Addison stands out. She creates a calm and competent environment with an excellent understanding of her client’s requirements. She produces results.’

‘I have used this firm on several occasions during the year, mostly on property related problems. I have dealt with Stephen Firmin almost exclusively and I find him to be readily available and measured in his response. He is an excellent commercial lawyer.’

‘Mark Rowlands has helped us several times over recent years with tricky situations involving commercial leases. He has been superb – communicates clearly and quickly. He thinks beyond the box, sees potential problems and flags them up in good time.’