Social housing in South West

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP is known to provide 'consistently good and thorough advice' in housing matters. Its impressive client list includes registered providers and local authorities; together with their London team, the group is also active for several of the capital's boroughs. It covers the full gamut of work with notable expertise in development work, in which Paul Butterworth has a strong track record, This in addition to housing litigation and tenancy management matters, for which Sian Gibbon is highlighted. Together with Tim Heal, they lead the practice. Associate Isabelle Clement has expertise in advising on regeneration schemes.

Practice head(s):

Sian Gibbon; Paul Butterworth; Tim Heal

Other key lawyers:

Lucy Woods; Isabelle Clement 


‘Very professional outfit. Undoubtedly a match for their London-based peers. Proactive approach to collegiate working and engagement with counsel.’

‘Sian Gibbon – approachable and professional. Clearly knowledgeable in her field.’

‘The Ashfords team have provided consistently good and thorough advice to us on a range of affordable housing transactions. Ashfords have handled some particularly complicated situations and deals over the last 24 months and have been a great support in getting matters resolved as quickly and practically as possible. We enjoy working with the team, find their approach to billing to be really satisfactory and appreciate their pragmatic legal advice. ’

‘Paul Butterworth and Isabelle Clement are both very responsive and we benefit from strong working relationships with them. ’

‘One of the projects we have collaborated on was particularly challenging yet the team consistently provided clear, concise advice delivered in a timely manner.’

‘Paul Butterworth and Isabelle Clement – both highly skilled in their field, both consistently on top of each other’s work to provide seamless advice.’

‘Ashfords is the premium outfit. A very high standard of professionalism and attention to detail.’

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

Homes England


Notting Hill Genesis

Cross Keys Homes

Saxon Weald Homes

Work highlights

  • Acting for the London Boroughs of Wandsworth and Richmond in all non-routine litigation matters including residential possession actions, leasehold matters, homelessness reviews, disrepair claims, judicial reviews, commercial lease disputes, management and telecoms issues.
  • Advised Sovereign Housing Association Limited on the acquisition of affordable homes on an innovative zero carbon development scheme, using off-site manufacturing.
  • Advised The Guinness Partnership on many hundreds of disrepair claims, both County Court injunction/damages claims and EPA claims before the Magistrates’ Court.

Bevan Brittan LLP

At Bevan Brittan LLP, the 'sector knowledge and experience really comes through'. The team impresses with a full service covering corporate governance; regulatory, advisory and litigation; housing management; and property and development matters. Clients include housing associations, local authorities, developers and funders. South West practice head Alison Buckingham has notable knowledge in the public sector. Jonathan Turner is an 'excellent client partner' and deals with regeneration work. Senior associate Kate Hicks is well versed in housing disputes. Jessica Church joined in March 2021 from Trowers & Hamlins LLP.

Practice head(s):

Alison Buckingham

Other key lawyers:

Steve Eccles; Jonathan Turner; Kate Hicks; Jessica Church 


‘This is a local practice to us with excellent knowledge of the housing sector. We have also received sound advice with us being kept fully updated of the progress of cases they are representing us on.’

‘Kate Hicks always responds promptly and will go the extra mile to ensure we obtain the best outcome.’

‘We always find Bevan Brittan friendly and easy to deal with – clients like working with them. They have a reliable real estate team.’

‘Very responsive, practical and commercial advice. Sector knowledge and experience really comes through.’

‘Jonathan Turner is an excellent client partner. He always addresses queries promptly and if he doesn’t know he finds someone who can. He is very happy to assist and I feel that he goes out of his way to support me in my role.’

‘Consistent with great advice, scrutinises cases thoroughly and shares knowledge. ’

‘Friendly and personable.’

‘Kate Hicks – have built a good working relationship, always listens to frustrations and shares her rationale in decision making. Very considered in her approach, gives excellent advice and her support during complex cases is much appreciated.’

Key clients

Places for People Group

Sovereign Housing Group

Abri (formally Radian/Yarlington Housing)

Peabody Group

Sanctuary Housing Group

L&Q Group

The Housing Finance Corporation

Network Homes

Vivid Group

Southmead Development Corporation

Ealing Borough Council

Beau Homes Limited

GreenSquare Group

Sage Housing Limited

Hyde Housing Group

Orbit Group

Catalyst Housing Group

Work highlights

  • Advised Places for People on its acquisition from the London Legacy Development Corporation of 28 PRS Units and 130 Affordable Units within Phase 1 of the flagship East Wick and Sweetwater development on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, London.
  • Advised Sovereign on the acquisition of a large site in Bristol, which is currently zoned as commercial land and is occupied by car dealerships.
  • Advised Selwood Housing on the restructure of a £113m facility from Nationwide Building Society.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP acts for registered providers and is also active on significant frameworks, both regionally and nationally. The team works closely with its property and development and the commercial property groups as needed. It also handles property disputes for which Kary Withers is a key contact. Oliver Smedley offers expertise in development matters and Helen Wittram specialises in transactions. Practice heads Lindsay Felstead and Vicky Kells are based in Manchester and Cardiff respectively.

Practice head(s):

Lindsay Felstead; Vicky Kells

Other key lawyers:

Kary Withers; Oliver Smedley; Helen Wittram; Zoe Stollard


‘An experienced and professional team with a wealth of knowledge of the sector. Always available for consultation over the phone and always willing to provide expert advice and opinion when needed.’

‘The team at Clark Wilmott have helped us deliver a variety of affordable housing schemes over recent years. We generally benefit from a strong relationship with them and enjoy working with their key personnel. ’

‘We find working with Helen Wittram positive for negotiating on contracts and providing considered, pragmatic, commercial advice to us.’

Key clients


The Guinness Partnership

Sovereign Housing

Bath & North East Somerset Council

Greensquare Homes

Abri (Yarlington and Radian)


Alliance Homes


The Aster Group

Work highlights

  • Advised London & Quadrant on successfully litigating a leading telecoms case against Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd.
  • Advising Stonewater Limited on the acquisition of 169 affordable dwellings in East Sussex.
  • Advising Sovereign Housing on the acquisition and development of new office headquarters.

Stephens Scown LLP

Stephens Scown LLP is praised for offering the 'full attention of a partner on every transaction.'  The team is instructed by regional and national housing associations and covers a wide range of areas, including governance and procurement, construction, finance and disputes. It is led by Keith Wright, who has particular know-how in rural housing initiatives, and the 'knowledgable and thoroughHilary Pitts.

Practice head(s):

Keith Wright; Hilary Pitts

Other key lawyers:

Jim Gorrod; Tim Walmsley


‘The Stephens and Scown have a great knowledge of real estate and the Social Housing sector in particular. They get the right balance between legal knowledge and practical application. ’

‘Great levels of contact at all levels from day to day “normal” matters to more thorny issues!’

‘Stephens Scown is the epitome of ‘big enough to cope, small enough to care’. We receive the full attention of a partner on every transaction and are treated as if we are the only matter they are currently working on.’

‘Hilary Pitts is absolutely exceptional. Her diligence, pragmatism, efficiency and humility are remarkable.’

‘Stephens Scown always give very client-focused advice which is delivered in a timely and efficient manner.’

‘Tim Walmsley is unflappable, highly capable and ready to explain stuff gently to non-specialists like us, who often don’t understand the basics. He has provided a service that far outweighs other solicitors, and is able/willing to come forward with suggestions and ideas that improve the work.’

‘Professional, good understanding of our business, knowledgeable, excellent response times.’

‘Hilary Pitts – Professional, very approachable, knowledgable, thorough, advice given is clear, concise and in plain English, prompt at responding, pleasant to work with.’

Key clients

Magna Housing

Reside Housing


Plymouth Community Homes

Hastoe Housing Association Limited


English Rural Housing Association Limited

Yarlington Housing Group

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 Group

Work highlights

  • Acted for a large registered provider in a large stock re-organisation comprising over 600 properties.
  • Advising Advantage South West, a joint venture company owned by South West social housing providers including Plymouth Community Homes, Exeter City Council, Magna Housing, and Yarlington among others, to draft a bespoke Measured Term Contract that could be used by all the members of the framework.
  • Provided extensive property and commercial support to Coastline Housing Limited in connection with the charity’s innovative partnership with Legal and General Homes for the delivery of 600 additional homes in Cornwall per year.


TLT has an active practice, with members predominantly advising social housing providers on M&A, joint ventures, contracts and new developments. Other areas of expertise are tenancy matters and court actions. South West team head Kane Kirkbride covers a wide range of contentious work for registered providers. His group also works closely with the firm’s practice head Linda Convery in London for national clients. Newly promoted partner Sarah Hale is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Kane Kirkbride

Other key lawyers:

Linda Convery; Siobhan Fitzgerald; Sarah Hale


‘Very experienced and approachable plot sales team. They keep us regularly updated on all our transactions and are always willing to assist with any more complex matters.’

‘Good range of skill set when working on a range of complex issues. They have provided support to our organisation by preparing a range a literature/presentation to clearly explain issues and pre-empt further questions. All information produced is clear and easy to follow and issued in good time. All fee quotes are discussed at the outset and do not often vary unless discussed beforehand.’

‘Evidence preparation has been key and the team have been proactive in ensuring this was concise but comprehensive which has meant that the court was confident in the case being heard. The team have been proactive in ensuring that we were able to achieve our goals in each case and have recommended innovative but properly risk assessed courses of action which have enabled us to responded effectively and in a timely way to serious cases involving intimidation of witnesses.’

‘Kane Kirkbride is exceptional. He is good at keeping us up to date with progress and work quickly and effectively. Nothing seems to be too much trouble and no deadline is too tight to meet. This has made a huge difference.’

‘Approachable team members and proactive and resourced with a team that can address all matters and advise. Positive approach to billing and willing to consider workload and fees to make affordable.’

‘Excellent team who have the ability to advise the client on risk and how to mitigate it whilst maintaining positive relationship with all interested parties.’

‘They are always at the end of the phone, always call back and have got time to discuss your concern.’

‘We always get a personal service; Sarah Hale is always available and has oversight of all projects her team is working on. They respond quickly to enquiries and have a collaborative approach.’

Key clients


The Guinness Partnership Limited

Abundance Investments

Elim Housing Association

London Borough of Ealing

Curo Places Limited

Catalyst Housing Ltd

Livewest Homes Limited

Notting Hill Genesis

Southern Housing Group Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised The Guinness Partnership Limited on the acquisition of 343 plots over three phases from Crest Nicholson at Gloucester Quays.
  • Acted for Stonewater in a land and build agreement for 120 modular affordable units in Hereford from Ilke Homes.
  • Advised Livewest in the acquisition of 24 affordable units from Acorn Developments Limited.

Tozers Solicitors LLP

Tozers Solicitors LLP is particularly active for registered providers in work relating to properties, housing management and employment. This includes contentious as well as non-contentious support in regional and national matters. Practice head Stephen Burtchaell has experience in cross subsidy, and golden brick schemes. Deborah Black is active in development matters.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Burtchaell

Other key lawyers:

Deborah Black 


‘Tozers has consistently demonstrated the strong value of their people and how the application of law in a considerate manner can resolve issues that arise. Team members go out of their way to connect on a personal level, which strengthens trust and the ability to advise to achieve the client.’

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Trowers & Hamlins LLP has considerable experience in the social housing space, where it can offer clients full service support. Beyond developments, housing management and M&A, the group also advises on joint ventures, institutional investments, and other public and private collaborations. Georgina Savill-James leads the team and has broad expertise in the real estate area. Hannah Jackson and senior associate Jack Frier are also involved practitioners. Joseph Acton retired in early 2021 and Jessica Church moved to Bevan Brittan LLP.

Practice head(s):

Georgina Savill-James

Other key lawyers:

Hannah Jackson; Jack Frier


‘I have worked with Trowers for many years because of the quality of customer care and service. Clear communication has led to a position where breadth of advice and options are widely discussed before a transparent quote is received. Then additional services are known about if they become relevant and again are quoted and instructed. Where client management is normally dealt with by a key contact the full range of services is available and other team members are brought in when needed. These strengths when combined with a proactive deadline meeting approach make Trowers a legal partner of choice.’

‘Jack Frier is probably known to most South West developers and HAs. What is surprising is that he is able to give so much time and individual attention to the scheme that you are working on at the moment, that it feels as if he is dedicated to it; but clearly has far more on his desk. Practical advice and problem solving on top of doing the job are key benefits of working with Trowers and Jack Frier in particular. ’

‘The firm is a go-to source of expertise in a wide range of areas but is particularly strong in relation to advice on housing grant and regulation. It offers reliable advice on all land related issues and is good at getting things over-the-line and in accordance with business critical deadlines.’

‘Dependable, reliable, responsive – able to provide tailored advice ’

‘Strong practice with a focus on Housing Association issues.’

‘Friendly, very experienced, easy to deal with. Take a common sense approach.’

‘Jack Frier continues to provide an excellent service. Their knowledge of our industry is exceptional as is their commitment to working within the timescales we require.’

Key clients

LiveWest Homes Limited

Vistry Partnerships Limited

Abri Housing

Lovell Partnerships Limited

Aster Group

East Devon District Council

North Devon Homes

Linden First Limited

Westward Housing Group

Teign Housing

Work highlights

  • Advising Vistry Partnerships Limited and Westco Properties Limited on all aspects of the acquisition of Phase 3a of the ‘new town’ of Cranbrook which will see the construction of a further 180 new dwellings and contributes to the total of 7,850 new homes expected to be built at Cranbook.
  • Advising North Devon Homes on the mixed use development site at Anchorwood Bank, Barnstaple to provide a mix of private and social housing in North Devon, to provide 37 affordable units and 135 market homes.
  • Advising Paradigm Homes Charitable Housing Association Limited in relation to a significant stock swap.