Commercial property: The West Country in South West

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP’s credentials as a market-leader in the commercial property sphere are underlined by its breadth of experience in the renewable energy, franchising, healthcare, education, development and residential sectors. It acts for a broad base of clients, including housebuilders, commercial developers, contractors, investors, planners, local authorities and landowners. On the development side, practice head Tim Heal (‘amazing lawyer’) and Kate Topp are recommended, as is Andrew Rothwell. Plymouth-based James Heath is noted for his secured lending work.

Practice head(s):

Tim Heal

Other key lawyers:

Kate Topp; Andrew Rothwell; James Heath

Testimonials

Clearly a market-leading team—the high quality of work speaks for itself

Great professionals

Key clients

Barratt Homes

Biffa Waste Services

Blue Cedar

Bridgwater Gateway

Burrington Estates

Cavanna Homes

CG Fry

David Wilson Homes

DP World London Gateway

Majestic Wine

Mendip District Council

Persimmon Homes

Strongvox

Wainhomes (South West) Holdings

Work highlights

  • Acted for developer-buyer on a £15.3m acquisition of a residential development site for 170 dwellings.
  • Advising Burrington Estates on the acquisition of a site for residential development and onward sales.
  • Advising the chain on multiple agreements concerning leases and licences to underlet, lease assignments, underleases, licences permitting alterations, and other licensing.
  • Acting for Curtis Banks on sales, purchases, leases, lending and general portfolio requirements.
  • Handled a £6.3m acquisition of a 10-acre area of derelict land in Frome for Mendip District Council.

Davitt Jones Bould

Davitt Jones Bould demonstrates strong capabilities in large estate management projects, and development and regeneration projects. In addition, it has expanded its presence in the private investment space. Also notable is that the team has developed a niche specialism in handling conversions of schools into academies. Practice head Madeleine Davitt is, according to one client, ‘a true commercial property specialist with unrivalled property knowledge’. Davitt acts for some of the most significant landowners in the South West region. The ‘uniqueRobin de Wreede is experienced in handling major infrastructure and town centre developments for a number of local authorities and their joint venture partners. Stuart Bould and Sean Bulman are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Madeleine Davitt

Testimonials

A proactive firm which applies common sense and commercial knowledge to all situations

The team is very pragmatic in reaching solutions and meeting a client’s requirements

Key clients

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Seafood Trading

Bath and North East Somerset Council

Exeter Science Park

Highways England

Integral UK

Department of Health and Social Care

Natural England

North Somerset Council

Bristol Water

Work highlights

  • Advising the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on multiple matters, including leases, acquisitions, disposals, as well as certain niche issues, including securing long-term security over land.
  • Advising Exeter Science Park on the £10m development of the park.
  • Advising Woking Borough Council on the property aspects of the regeneration of Sheerwater. Also handling the compulsory purchase order needed to facilitate the project.
  • Advising TV celebrity chef Rick Stein on the expansion of his restaurant portfolio.
  • Advised Poole Borough Council on multiple academy transfers, thereby handling the required leases and commercial transfer agreements.

Foot Anstey

Due to its commitment in providing ‘exceptional’ legal support to clients, Foot Anstey’s team has retained a long list of significant longstanding clients including developers, retailers and leisure operators, corporate occupiers and financial institutions. The team has also recently scored multiple client wins in the sectors of retail, leisure, financial services, and energy and infrastructure. Richard Walford’s specialisation is in corporate occupier and infrastructure matters with particular emphasis on development and regulated property. Besides serving as a primary contact for a number of public sector clients, Duncan Tringham also handles development, regeneration and infrastructure work.

Practice head(s):

Martin Hirst

Other key lawyers:

Richard Walford; Duncan Tringham

Key clients

Computershare

Exeter College

Gregory Distribution

London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Berkeley Homes

Screwfix Direct

FirstGroup

B&Q

Flybe / Flybe Group

Welcome Break

Work highlights

  • Managed a £2m-worth investment property sale for Computershare.
  • Assisted Exeter College with obtaining a planning permission for residential development, as well as with the sale of property to Taylor Wimpey.
  • Advising a London borough on a grant-funded regeneration scheme in East London involving the development of 785 homes, commercial units and a new bridge.
  • Assisting Screwfix Direct with the expansion of its property portfolio, lease renewals and other ongoing estate management matters.
  • Assisted FirstGroup with the management of its £100m property portfolio across its rail and bus operations.

Michelmores LLP

Michelmores LLP has a particularly first-rate reputation in development and public sector work, but it is also highly regarded in other areas of commercial property; the broader practice also encompasses strategic land, joint ventures and secured lending transactions, among other matters. The firm is strong in cross-departmental cooperation, as is evidenced by the fact that asset management practice head Richard Honey plays a leading role in providing transactional property advice to police authorities. Another key figure is David Howe, who ‘has all qualities and traits which a highly skilled property lawyer should have’. The ‘very experienced’ department head Emma Honey serves as a key contact for residential developers, as well as schools and academies. Also in the residential development space, Lucy Smallwood has particular expertise in acquisitions and disposals of land.

Practice head(s):

Emma Honey

Testimonials

Emma Honey and David Howe are always readily available and, unlike competitors in their field, provide proactive commercial advice in a speedy manner

Very good strategic advice from a reliable, knowledegable and friendly team

Team members have good knowledge of the region and the development sector in the South West

Michelmores builds strong personal relationships whilst providing market leading commercial advice

Key clients

Barratt David Wilson

Cavanna Group

Clinton Devon Estates

CG Fry

Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime

Persimmon Homes

St Modwen Developments

Sutton Harbour Holdings

University of Exeter

Work highlights

  • Acted for Barratt David Wilson on the acquisition of strategic development land for 110 dwellings.
  • Acted for The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime on its £250m freehold acquisition of the Empress State Building, Earls Court, London.
  • Advised Cornwall Council on multiple aspects of a flagship local authority acquisition.
  • Advised South Devon College on the acquisition of land for the purpose of expansion of the client’s sports facilities.
  • Assisted Crofty Developments with a disposal of land at the historic South Crofty mine.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's work spans areas such as energy, rail infrastructure, institutional investment, public sector development and secured lending property finance. Practice head Craig Moore is experienced in all areas of commercial property, but is particularly active in property finance matters. In the housing development space, legal director Samantha Orluta is experienced in advising developers and housing associations on site acquisitions and all types of related agreements. Managing associate Christopher Stephens specialises in strategic development and land assembly work.

Practice head(s):

Craig Moore

Testimonials

Team members provide helpful updates regarding developments in property law and other issues affecting the client’s business

The team goes above and beyond for its clients in getting the work done

The associates are very good but the partners keep a watchful oversight

Key clients

English Cities Fund

Mount Wise

Brittany Ferries

West Devon Borough Council

Bristol & Bath Regional Capital

Network Rail Infrastructure

Renewable Energy Systems

University of Plymouth

Work highlights

  • Advising English Cities Fund on the £30m acquisition of residential development site Quadrant Wharf in Plymouth.
  • Advised Mount Wise on the sale of 59 luxury apartments in one of Plymouth’s finest waterfront developments.
  • Advised Brittany Ferries on the completion of the client’s complex building agreement for lease relating to the construction and leasing of its new operations and freight office in Plymouth.
  • Assisted a client with the acquisition of an investment portfolio, including a significant retail park.
  • Assisted a council with the acquisition of an investment portfolio including industrial units.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP's commercial property team has a strong track record in the housebuilding, commercial development and investment sectors. It is also knowledgeable about all types of issues that arise from property portfolio management. Although Philip Brown handles a wide spectrum of work, his practice has a particular emphasis on residential and commercial development, where he mostly acts for developers, promoters and landowners. Tim Walker is also active in the development space. Roger Seaton’s real estate practice focuses on property finance.

Practice head(s):

Nick Francombe; Tim Walker

Other key lawyers:

Philip Brown; Roger Seaton

Testimonials

Great, high-quality advice from a strong team with superb knowledge, understanding, commercial reality and pragmatism

The team has confidence that only comes with the experience it has

Clients get London-quality services at costs significantly lower than London rates

Nothing is too challenging for this impressive property team

The firm’s property seminars are an added bonus, providing a timely round-up of recent case law and clarifying the direction in which decisions and future legislation could go

Philip Brown is excellent, charismatic, very hard-working, and detail-oriented

Philip Brown provides excellent advice, both quickly and with a strong understanding of the commercial drivers underlying any transaction

Roger Seaton has the unique ability to spot and resolve the key issues of every matter, which makes him a very safe pair of hands for all kinds of corporate real estate transactions

Key clients

Summerfield Developments

Scotsgrove Holdings

Strongvox

Persimmon Homes

Countryside Properties

Metis Homes

Bradford & Sons

Precis Group

Bridgwater & Taunton College

Bathurst Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for Bathurst Limited on the £11m disposal of development land at Cam, Dursley, Gloucestershire, to Bovis Homes.
  • Acted for Persimmon Homes on a £6.8m acquisition of development land.
  • Assisted Bullet Properties with a £15.7m acquisition of a multi-let property in London.
  • Assisted Scotsgrove Holdings with the acquisition, re-gear and disposal (by way of sub-sale) of a headquarters building in Swindon.
  • Advised A.E. Securities Limited on the £2m sale of a distribution warehouse to Urban Depot Limited.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Trowers & Hamlins LLP’s team in Exeter functions both as a standalone group in the South West and as a key part of the firm’s national practice. Also notable is that the group consists of practitioners who are knowledgeable about areas such as planning, procurement, construction and environmental law. The firm's varied portfolio of work includes commercial acquisitions, regeneration projects, property finance transactions, and investment fund portfolio acquisitions. Investors, local authorities, regulators and developers are among the clients that turn to the firm for advice. Lynn Onyett is a go-to for advice on the acquisition and management of niche-use sites, such as those used for the provision of healthcare and motorsport-related occupations. Georgina Savill-James, who specialises in regeneration and residential property transactions, is experienced in portfolio and development acquisitions, as well as large scale disposal programmes. Nicholas Burt joined from Foot Anstey in 2018.

Practice head(s):

Chris Rundle; Sara Bailey

Other key lawyers:

Lynn Onyett; Georgina Savill-James

Testimonials

The team has an excellent understanding of its clients’ needs and requirements, and is willing to remain flexible in handling different issues

There is a good range of skills and expertise, as well as a number of people within the team which can be contacted for assistance

The firm is very easy to work with, which makes it a standout

The workload is allocated appropriately across all hierarchical levels

Lynn Onyett takes a commercial view on all points and efficiently guides clients through potentially difficult situations

Key clients

Galliford Try Group

LiveWest

London & Devonshire Trust

West Midlands Pension Fund

Kames Capital

Freshwater Group

Greendale Group

Arbuthnot Latham

Civitas Social Housing

Torbay Development Agency

Burrington Estates

Taunton Deane Borough Council

Verto Homes

Work highlights

  • Advised Gravesham Borough Council on a major town centre retail and leisure regeneration scheme.
  • Acted for West Midlands Pension Fund on the purchase of City Point, Leeds — a prime office block in the centre of Leeds.
  • Assisted Greenridge Investment Management with the acquisition of two retail blocks in Liverpool, as part of Liverpool City Council’s regeneration scheme.
  • Advising Greendale Group on the development and the letting of an expanding business park in Exeter.
  • Assisted Pecan Deluxe Candy (Europe) with the lease of land and properties in Leeds.

GA Solicitors

GA Solicitors handles property-related matters for various clients in the healthcare sector. In addition, in the residential development sphere, it advises landowners on option and conditional sale agreements with national housebuilders. Other mainstays of the practice include licensing, property finance and investment transactions. David Stone, who heads up the department, focuses on landlord and tenant work. Lucy Foster leads the secured lending team.

Practice head(s):

David Stone

Other key lawyers:

Lucy Foster

Key clients

Harrier LLC

Peninsula Finance

Work highlights

  • Acting for Harrier LLC on its £1.75m purchase of industrial premises.
  • Acted for Peninsula Finance (the lender) on its £1.2m student accommodation development loan.
  • Acted for the landlord on the grant of three leases of premises at Sharpness Dock, Bristol.
  • Acted for Sheyenne on the acquisition and letting of warehouse premises.
  • Advised Riverside Investments (Clacton) on the sale of a development site for sheltered accommodation.

Kitsons LLP

Kitsons LLP’s commercial property work is centred on sectors such as renewable energy, residential development, healthcare and leisure. The team provides partner-led advice to a wide range of clients, including residential and commercial developers, businesses, charities, industrial estates, farm operators and developers, and private individuals. The practice is led by Patrick Gaskins in Torquay, Exeter-based Cameron Caverhill and James Lang in Plymouth.

Practice head(s):

Patrick Gaskins; Cameron Caverhill; James Lang

Key clients

Worldteam

CG Fry & Son

Buccaneer Inns

Gadd Properties

Midas Group

Midas Commercial Developments

Hospiscare

Armada Finance

E&JW Glendinning

Wyse Homes

Churston Golf Club

Work highlights

  • Advising on the purchase of two care homes within the South Hams.
  • Advising a holiday park operator on the sale of a holiday park comprising cottages, lodges, spa, sports facilities and fishing lakes.
  • Assisting an investor/ developer with the purchase of a site for a six-storey student accommodation hall comprising 65 bedrooms.
  • Advising CG Fry & Son on the sale of commercial land for development in Bradford-on-Avon.

Maitland Walker LLP

Maitland Walker LLP has been attracting new work recently, such as acquisitions and disposals of hotels, public houses, nightclubs and shop premises, development sites and pre-lets, general estate management work, and agricultural property and land transactions. Benjamin Slade specialises in transactions involving the leisure and licensing industries, as well as in landlord and tenant law. Hilary Coles acts for a number of residential developers in relation to planning matters, but has also developed a specialism in rural and agricultural property.

Practice head(s):

Benjamin Slade; Hilary Coles

Key clients

Talarius

Playnation Games

Work highlights

  • Providing portfolio management advice to Talarius.
  • Acted for Playnation Games on the acquisition of a motorway service centre commercial unit in Leeds and provided continuing advice on their occupation of seven other motorway service centres located nationwide.

Porter Dodson LLP

Porter Dodson LLP provides partner-led advice on a wide range of property matters, with a particular strength in assisting landowner and developer clients with the contractual arrangements associated with the development of land for residential and commercial use. The firm also acts for other clients, such as retailers and medical practices. In acting to advising clients on a standalone basis, the team also works with members of the firm's corporate and commercial department on the property aspects of corporate transactions. Taunton-based Bruce Weir heads the wider commercial property department. 'Great multitasker' Louise Sanders and Victoria Walker are key contacts in Yeovil. Lesley Gaskell is also recommended for property transaction work.

Practice head(s):

Bruce Weir

Testimonials

Porter Dodson has deep knowledge of the commercial property market; the team is good at resolving complex issues and communicating clearly

Team members understand the client’s business and its needs

The team never overcomplicates contracts and approaches negotiations in a constructive manner

The property team has exceptional experience with dealing with all types of housing development

A standout partner is Louise Sanders; Louise is extremely hardworking, knowledgeable and dedicated

Lesley Gaskell has exceptional experience

Key clients

Toolstation

Trustees of the Camel Pension Fund

Martock and South Petherton Surgery

Work highlights

  • Advised Toolstation on the acquisition of leasehold premises as part of its national rapid roll-out programme.
  • Acted for a GP practice on the sale of an investment company and the assignment of leasehold premises to to a subsidiary of an NHS trust.

Stephens Scown LLP

Stephens Scown LLP’s real estate team is recommended for commercial landlord and tenant work. It also has a strong capability in strategic land development, where it acts for both landowners and specialist promoters. The group's sectoral expertise spans areas such as mining and minerals, renewable energy, rural housing, leisure, and caravan parks. Leading the practice in Cornwall are joint heads Tim Atkins and Keith Wright, while Nigel Coveney heads up the Exeter team. The arrival of solicitor Julie Mason from Michelmores LLP has strengthened the firm's offering in relation to asset management and secured lending transactions.

Practice head(s):

Nigel Coveney; Keith Wright; Tim Atkins

Other key lawyers:

Julie Mason

Key clients

Strategic Land Partnership LLP

Waddeton Park

Hydro Mills Group

St Austell Brewery

Strongbow Exploration Inc

LiveWest

Cavanna Homes

Wombwell Homes

Venture Property & Development Company

Hastoe Housing Association

Imerys Minerals

Work highlights

  • Acting for a famous Somerset tourism attraction on the purchase of its second holiday park.
  • Advising a landowner on an option to take a lease of industrial land.