Social housing in South West

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP acts for a strong roster of major registered providers (RPs) and local authority clients on issues such as site acquisitions, housing association structuring, and a wide range of contentious work – including ASB claims. Paul Butterworth, who heads the property and development side of the practice, frequently leads on stock transfer projects. His colleague Isabelle Clement is a highly experienced adviser to major RPs on the acquisition of land for development. Lucy Woods is a public sector specialist, particularly in relation to public procurement work, while Sian Gibbon – who heads the property litigation team – has recently focused on litigation related to B5 safety regulations.

Practice head(s):

Paul Butterworth; Sian Gibbon

Other key lawyers:

Tim Heal; Lucy Woods; Victoria Bonnet; Patrick Blake; Jessica Taylor; Isabelle Clement; Amelia Pine


‘Great reputation in the landlord market. Consistently excellent preparation, gives a city feel to local work.’

‘Victoria Bonnet is committed and careful.’

Amelia Pine works well beyond her grade. Always comforting to see her name on the papers.’

‘Ashfords is a highly professional and skilled practice with a depth of experience working on all aspects of affordable housing delivery.’

‘Ashfords is professional, personable and responsive to client’s needs.’


Key clients

Sovereign Housing Association

Aster Group

LiveWest Homes Limited

The Guinness Partnership Limited

Evolve Housing & Support

Cornerstone Housing

London Borough of Wandsworth

St. Mungo Community Housing Association

HFL Group Limited


Brick by Brick Croydon Limited

Housing Associations Legal Alliance (HALA)


Notting Hill Genesis


Cross Keys Homes

London Borough of Southwark

Saxon Weald Homes Limited

Silva Homes

Work highlights

  • Advised The Guinness Partnership on hundreds of disrepair claims.
  • Advised Stonewater on the acquisition of land by way of sub-sale from Coventry County Council via Countryside Properties (UK) Limited.
  • Advised GreenSquareAccord on the acquisition of 93 affordable homes from Legal & General in Bristol.

Bevan Brittan LLP

Bevan Brittan LLP‘s wide-ranging practice encompasses strategic land acquisitions, housing finance, building safety and litigation advice for major housing associations. The South West social housing team is led by Alison Buckingham, a key contact for various housing associations and private developers. Testament to his expertise in the area, Jonathan Turner‘s recent work has seen him advising large metropolitan housing associations on joint ventures to deliver residential-led developments. Contentious housing specialist Steve Eccles handles a growing number of matters related to the Building Safety Act 2022, while Jessica Church – strong in housing finance work – frequently advises registered providers on funding issues. Disputes lawyer Kate Hicks and developments specialist Miriam Bishop are further key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Louise Leaver; Alison Buckingham

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Turner; Steve Eccles; Jessica Church; Kate Hicks; Miriam Bishop; Diarmaid O’Sullivan


‘Bevan Brittan LLP are my go-to firm for corporate governance advice. Their knowledge of the social housing sector is exceptional.’

‘Diarmaid O’Sullivan is a stand-out individual – he is responsive, reliable and pragmatic in his approach and is truly a pleasure to work with.’

‘Full range of expertise, and were able to seek out small but crucial elements which enhanced the quality of the overall advice.’

‘Louise Leaver is responsive, considered, and an expert in her field.’

‘Established lawyers who perform well, especially in property development and housing management.’

‘Alison Buckingham impresses me with her knowledge, organisation and approach.’


Key clients

Places for People Group

Sovereign Housing Group

Abri Housing Group

Peabody Group

Sanctuary Housing Group

The Housing Finance Corporation

Network Homes

London & Quadrant Group

Southmead Development Corporation

Sage Housing Group

ForHousing Limited

GreenSquareAccord Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Peabody Trust and Catalyst Housing on their merger creating a group with a combined turnover of circa £1 billion.
  • Advised Places for People on deals with Ilke Homes for developments using modular construction methods with a value of £150m+.
  • Advised Havebury Housing Partnership on a £60 million revolving credit facility and £150 million private placement.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

The ‘effective team’ at Trowers & Hamlins LLP advises regulatory bodies, traditional housing providers and new entrants to the sector on issues across the space, including issue arising from the rent cap, MMC developments, building safety claims and portfolio acquisitions and disposals. Leadership duties are divided between Georgina Savill-James, head of the South West affordable housing team, and Hannah Jackson, who heads up the real estate finance security team. Hilary Pitts, who joined from Stephens Scown LLP in November 2022, is well versed in site acquisitions. Fellow site acquisition specialist Jack Frier frequently acts for developers and RPs. Alex Frankland‘s practice reach notably extends to estate regeneration schemes, while Sarah Cross deepens the real estate finance capability at the Exeter practice.

Practice head(s):

Georgina Savill-James; Hannah Jackson

Other key lawyers:

Hilary Pitts; Jack Frier; Alex Frankland; Sarah Cross


‘The team has a range of expertise and will always explain their advice in plain English and come up with new ideas to move contracts forwards.’

‘Alex Frankland is excellent – he understands our commercial approach and appetite for risk.’

‘Diligent and well-organised. Always proactive and sensible in their approach.’

‘Willing to go that extra mile, and come back with solutions or opportunities to do more.’

‘Established social housing specialists with strong experience and an effective team.’

‘Alex Frankland deals with most of our work – he is quick to respond to queries and deals with our development issues in a timely manner.’

Key clients


Abri Group

Selwood Housing

Sovereign Housing


Settle Group

Teign Housing

Housing Solutions

Vistry Partnerships Limited

Westward Housing

The Hyde Group

Evera Homes

Homes England

The Regulator of Social Housing

National Housing Federation

Optivo/Southern Group


The Guinness Partnership

Legal & General Affordable Homes


Work highlights

  • Advised LiveWest on the continued development and acquisition of affordable housing at this Urban extension to Taunton, the Comeytrowe development.
  • Advised Abri on the purchase of land and buildings at Station Road, Gomshall, Surrey.
  • Acting for Vistry Partnerships in the delivery of a 184 unit wholly affordable scheme with the assistance of Homes England grant funding.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP is particularly well regarded for its property and development work, where the team advises at all steps of the development journey from site acquisition to sale and subsequent lease extensions of shared ownership units. The team is jointly led by Vicky Kells, who divides her time between Cardiff and Bristol; the Bristol-based trio of Kary Withers, Oliver Smedley and Neil Baker; and the Taunton-based Kate Saunders. Jade Lyus, a planning specialist, and Stephen Harper, who frequently advises on the property aspects of development projects, are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Vicky Kells; Kary Withers; Oliver Smedley; Kate Saunders; Neil Baker

Other key lawyers:

Richard Moore; Helen Wittram; Maria Greener; Philip Roberts; Jade Lyus; Stephen Harper


‘ Good strength in depth and a detailed understanding of the needs of their clients.’


Key clients

Stonewater Limited

The Guinness Partnership

Sovereign Housing


Mears (Plexus)



Alliance Homes



Work highlights

  • Advising Abri on a £21m acquisition of 85 units within an urban regeneration site lead by Countryside.
  • Advising Bromford on a £16m acquisition of a Homes England DPS site in partnership with a national housebuilder.
  • Advising Hyde Housing on their debt recovery program recovering substantial debts that were thought unlikely to ever be paid.

Stephens Scown LLP

A popular destination for registered housing providers and major housing associations, Stephens Scown LLP’s wide-ranging social housing offering spans procurement, tenancy matters, site acquisitions, and contractual disputes. Truro-based practice head Keith Wright is well placed to advise on partnering agreements between housing associations and community land trusts. Tim Walmsley frequently handles site acquisitions for housing associations, while Jim Gorrod brings his construction expertise to bear on issues such as the fire safety of high-rise properties. Kate Westlake‘s focus includes conditional contracts and Section 106 acquisitions. Helen Thomas is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Keith Wright

Other key lawyers:

Tim Walmsley; Jim Gorrod; Kate Westlake; Helen Thomas

Key clients

Magna Housing

Reside Housing


Plymouth Community Homes

Hastoe Housing Association


English Rural Housing Association Limited

Coastline Housing


South Devon Housing Group

Cornwall Rural Housing Association Limited

Knightstone Housing Association Limited (now part of LiveWest)

Bramford Speke CLT

Westward Housing Group Limited

Truro CLT

The Peninsula Trust

Ocean Housing Limited

Cornwall CLT

Rural Homes Ltd

Cambridgeshire Cottage Housing Society Limited

Work highlights

  • Providing Coastline Housing Limited property and commercial support in connection with its partnership with Legal and General Homes for the delivery of 600 additional homes in Cornwall per year.
  • Advising Peninsula Trust on an initiative where the local authority transfers surplus dilapidated stock to the Trust for use as affordable housing in perpetuity by local people.
  • Advising Hastoe Housing Association to draft or review contracts as well as providing advice on procurement and contractual disputes.


The ‘knowledgeable‘ team at TLT‘s Bristol office acts for housing associations and major social housing providers, including on 100% affordable housing developments. The team's strong focus on sustainable housing has seen them advising on a growing number of MMC projects. Sarah Hale, who anchors the Bristol team’s social housing offering, is well regarded for her MMC expertise, and a key contact for various large RPs. Kane Kirkbride frequently handles property related disputes. David Meecham joined from Pinsent Masons LLP in October 2022, bringing a wealth of experience advising public sector clients on housing-led development schemes. Property transactional lawyer Susannah Lopez Bernal is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Hale

Other key lawyers:

Kane Kirkbride; David Meecham; Susannah Lopez Bernal


‘Well resourced and experienced team who offer a wide variety of legal services for the development sector.’

‘Sarah Hale is very professional and has a wealth of knowledge. She is a good communicator who understands client’s needs and helps to deliver them.’

‘As well as being knowledgeable about the law related to social housing, the team are practical about how to navigate the legal waters.’

‘I really can’t praise them highly enough. I feel they are people of the highest integrity, and this means that we can trust them implicitly.’

‘The team has good collaboration and there is always someone who can assist with cases where the relevant fee earner is away.’

‘Kane Kirkbride, Robson and Shazia Bashir offer great expertise.’

‘The team has real strength in depth; a nationwide reach with a personal touch.’

‘Kane Kirkbride is very wise, capable and empathetic, with a deep knowledge of the law.’

Key clients


The Guinness Partnership Limited

Sovereign Housing Association Limited

Elim Housing Association

Town and Country Housing Group

Curo Places Limited

Silva Homes Limited


Bromford Housing Association

Southern Housing Group Limited

Abundance Investments

Work highlights

  • Advised Stonewater on the acquisition of a high value site in Bedfordshire for the development of 57 units to be delivered as 100% affordable.
  • Advised The Guinness Partnership on the acquisition of 343 plots over three phases from Crest Nicholson at Gloucester Quays.
  • Advised GreenSquareAccord on the acquisition of 93 affordable homes from Legal & General in Bristol.

Foot Anstey

Helmed by Lara Borrett-Lynch from the firm’s Southampton office. Foot Anstey ‘s ‘proactive’ team handles matters such as development agreements, acquisitions of affordable units and plot sales for major housing associations and housebuilders. Rachel Langley is the key contact in the South West; she is particularly strong in residential development mandates.

Practice head(s):

Lara Borrett-Lynch

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Langley


‘Good range of skills amongst the partners and associates.’

‘The team at Foot Anstey are proactive and have developed strong relationships with their stakeholders, meaning the process is much smoother for the buyer of the new home. ’

Rachel Langley has been excellent in her advice.’


Frettens LLP

Turned to by a number of housing associations, local authorities and registered providers, Frettens LLP‘s ‘friendly but professional team' handles portfolio acquisitions and transactional work involving leases suitable for development and use as social housing. The practice is co-led by Ben Cobb and Oonagh McKinney, based in Ringwood and Christchurch, respectively.

Practice head(s):

Ben Cobb; Oonagh McKinney


‘This is a friendly but professional team with a good depth of knowledge and the ability to work to (sometimes) tight deadlines.’

Key clients

Pivotal Housing Association

Sandude Limited

Independent Housing UK Limited

Parasol Homes Limited

Humbercare Limited

Bloom CIC

Fox Hound Capital

Work highlights

  • Advising Bloom Housing CIC on a number of transactions involving the taking of and disposing of leases of premises suitable for development and use as social housing.
  • Acquisition of a portfolio of properties for Fox Hound Capital, comprising 16 residential units. A lease was granted to a social housing provider before the portfolio was then sold to a fund.
  • Advising Independent Housing UK Limited on a number of transactions involving taking leases of premises suitable for development and use as social housing.

Tozers Solicitors LLP

Acting primarily for registered providers and housing associations, the ‘very good social housing team’ at Tozers Solicitors LLP assists with development and regeneration work, and has an increasing focus on housing disrepair claims. Practice head Stephen Burtchaell counts cross-subsidy and golden brick schemes among his areas of expertise, while site infrastructure agreements are a key strength for Amanda Bonnick. Social housing management specialists Jennifer Lloyd and Sarah Schooling are further key contacts at the Exeter practice.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Burtchaell

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Bonnick; Jennifer Lloyd; Sarah Schooling


‘Tozers are a legal firm who knows Social Housing, the staff are very good.’

‘Tozers have a very good Social Housing Team overseen by a very good manager in Stephen Burtchaell.’

Our staff feel very comfortable talking to Tozers’ legal team which is not always the case.


Key clients

North Devon Homes Limited

Plymouth Community Homes


Bromford Housing Group

South Western Housing Society


Westward Housing Group Limited

Cirencester Housing Association

Bridgwater YMCA

Exeter YMCA

Elim Housing Association

White Horse Housing Association

South Devon Rural Housing Association

Cornerstone Housing Limited

Shepherds Bush Housing Association Limited

Ocean Housing Limited