Next Generation Partners

Social housing in South West

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP possesses a strong presence in the South West with offices in Exeter, Bristol, Taunton and Plymouth, which work closely with the firm’s London hub to provide comprehensive advice for clients in and outside the capital. Sian Gibbon leads the housing litigation and tenancy management team and is regularly involved in disrepair claims and counterclaims, social housing fraud causes, and injunctions to enforce tenancy obligations. The property and development side of the practice is spearheaded by Paul Butterworth, who is specialised in large scale complex development and regeneration work. Public sector expert Lucy Woods handles public procurement issues, while senior associate Isabelle Clement regularly deals with matters pertaining to development.

Practice head(s):

Paul Butterworth; Sian Gibbon

Other key lawyers:

Lucy Woods; Tim Heal; Isabelle Clement

Testimonials

‘Clearly very specialist with a breadth and depth of understanding of housing law.’

‘Ashfords is a reliable choice for delivering an excellent service. You know exactly what you will get which is a excellent overall service.’

‘Paul Butterworth – always my first choice for complex schemes. I value his wealth of experience and his pragmatic approach. He is always available to discuss and is excellent at focusing on key issues to deliver robust contracts for us.’

‘Ashfords have a sharp understanding of the complexities of the current social housing contractual requirements. Ashfords have been a great help in moving opportunities forward at pace with rigorous thought. Ashfords have provided sound advice and problem solved on complex contract negotiations.’

‘The Ashfords team are approachable and also manage the clients expectations well. Ashfords are unafraid to challenge demands on both sides.’

Key clients

Sovereign Housing Association

Aster Group

LiveWest Homes Limited

Evolve Housing & Support

Cornerstone Housing

London Borough of Wandsworth

St. Mungo Community Housing Association

HFL Group Limited

CURO

Brick by Brick Croydon Limited

Homes England

Stonewater

Notting Hill Genesis

Cross Keys Homes

London Borough of Southwark

Saxon Weald Homes

Work highlights

  • Advised The Guinness Partnership on many hundreds of disrepair claims, including County Court injunction/damages claims and EPA claims before the Magistrates’ Court.
  • Advised Stonewater on the acquisition of 103 affordable housing units at Drummond Park, Ludgershall, Wiltshire from Lovell Partnerships which form part of a 412-home development by Lovell.
  • 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.

Bevan Brittan LLP

The social housing practice at Bevan Brittan LLP is based in Bristol and acts on behalf of clients ranging from housing associations and local authorities to developers and funders while covering the full gamut of issues in this sector. Practice head Alison Buckingham sports extensive expertise in the public sector environment while Jonathan Turner is regularly involved in joint ventures pertaining to housing-led development and regeneration work. Contentious matters are handled by Steve Eccles who leads the firm’s dispute resolution team. Jessica Church is a key contact for housing finance matters, particularly in relation to the security aspects of high value finance projects for registered providers. Clients turn to senior associate Kate Hicks for social housing disputes.

Practice head(s):

Alison Buckingham

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Turner; Steve Eccles; Jessica Church; Kate Hicks

Testimonials

‘The team are very approachable. They are able to articulate their advice clearly. They have strong expertise in some niche areas, which is appreciated. The team know the sector well and keep us appraised of any key topics that we need to be aware of.’

‘The individuals are very approachable and down to earth. They provide their advice in a way that is easy to understand. They communicate clearly and ensure that we are kept updated throughout any project work.’

‘Experienced, approachable, clarity of explanation, great understanding of the challenges involved in our project.’

Key clients

Places for People Group

Sovereign Housing Group

Abri Housing Group

Peabody Group

Sanctuary Housing Group

The Housing Finance Corporation

Network Homes

L&Q Group

Southmead Development Corporation

Sage Housing Group

LiveWest

Work highlights

  • Advised Catalyst and Peabody on their proposed merger which will create a new organisation responsible for 104,000 homes and circa 220,000 residents.
  • Advised Sovereign Housing on a hybrid acquisition/partnering arrangement with a developer for the development of a phased site in Bristol.
  • Acted for The Havebury Housing Partnership in connection with a £60 million revolving credit facility with Lloyds and a £150 private placement, which involved the securitisation of circa 1000 units.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP offers clients services along the whole lifecycle of social housing with strenghts in development and commercial matters. Vicky Kells leads the team out of the firm’s Cardiff office with specialisations in social housing property charging. In Bristol, head of planning and environment Neil Baker is regularly instructed by a host of registered providers for matters such as planning applications for housing sites and Kary Withers handles a range of property disputes. Oliver Smedley is a key contact for development work including site acquisition, joint ventures and collaboration agreements.

Practice head(s):

Vicky Kells

Other key lawyers:

Kary Withers; Oliver Smedley; Helen Wittram; Neil Baker

Key clients

Stonewater Limited

The Guinness Partnership

Sovereign Housing

Greensquare Homes

Bromford Housing

Abri

Livewest

Alliance Homes

L&Q

Aster

Work highlights

    Foot Anstey

    The social housing practice at Foot Anstey joins the ranking with an offering that includes strengths in plot sales, development and planning. The practice is led by Lara Borrett-Lynch, who joined the firm’s Southampton office in July 2021 from Blake Morgan LLP and regularly acts for housing associations on residential development matters alongside Martin Hirst and Marina Wickens. In the firm’s Bristol office, Christian Silk specialises in planning and environmental law.

    Practice head(s):

    Lara Borrett-Lynch

    Other key lawyers:

    Martin Hirst; Marina Wickens; Christian Silk; Anne Poole

    Testimonials

    ‘Experienced, knowledgeable, great service.’

    ‘A really approachable and helpful plot sales team that are readily available and always willing to help. Very experienced with good knowledge and thorough approach to sales progression.’

    ‘We’ve worked with Foot Anstey for years. They provide a range of RP residential services including acquisition, sectional agreements and charities disposals. They also provide some excellent planning advice. Although we have recently seen a couple of key members of the team move on to pastures new, the team have recently acted on a drawn up acquisition for us, and managed to get this through by year end.’

    ‘Anne Poole – level headed, pragmatic and positive.’

    Work highlights

      Stephens Scown LLP

      The social housing practice at Stephens Scown LLP ‘provides a fantastic range of services’ to regional and national clients including developers and housing associations. Rural housing initiatives specialist Keith Wright in Truro and the Exeter-based Hilary Pitts, who is regularly involved in the acquisition of sites for housing associations as well as related infrastructure agreements, jointly head the team. Also in Truro, Kate Westlake assists clients with matters pertaining to developments, acquisitions and disposals of property, as well as commercial leases and security work.

      Practice head(s):

      Hilary Pitts; Keith Wright

      Other key lawyers:

      Kate Westlake; Tim Walmsley

      Testimonials

      ‘They are all really friendly and helpful.’

      ‘Kate Westlake is always quick to answer my questions and very knowledgeable.’

      ‘This firm provide a fantastic range of services to us including working on acquisitions, sectional agreements, disposals, sales and charging.’

      ‘The firm is incredibly friendly – everyone is easily contactable, and any issues are always escalated and dealt with quickly.’

      Tim Walmsley – acted on a number of complex acquisitions for us, always responsive and friendly. Kate Westlake – incredibly calm, knowledgeable and pragmatic, a real asset to the team.’

      ‘The Stephens Scown team have been a critically important part of our success on social housing. They have the expertise and the background that we need; their advice has been consistently excellent and their additional support (on matters we wouldn’t have thought of) has been vital.’

      ‘Tim Walmsley has been our legal support for some years now. We have never managed to surprise him or leave him without a response: if he can’t sort something himself, he gets us to the right person very fast.’

      ‘Tim Walmsley is completely down-to-earth, ready to explain in detail where we need it and to get the work done fast and well. He is able to suggest new ways of doing things that often help hugely. He has taken the trouble to learn about our complex organisation and the people involved – we all see him very much as part of our wider team.’

      Key clients

      Magna Housing

      Reside Housing

      Greenfields

      Plymouth Community Homes

      Hastoe Housing Association Limited

      LiveWest

      English Rural Housing Association Limited

      Coastline Housing

      Abri

      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

      Cornwall CLT

      Rural Homes Ltd

      Work highlights

      • Acted for a registered provider in a large stock re-organisation comprising over 600 properties.
      • Advised the 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.
      • Instructed by Advantage South West to draft a bespoke Measured Term Contract that could be used by all the members of the framework.

      TLT

      TLT’s ‘proactive’ affordable housing team is located in Bristol and sports expertise along the key areas of projects and novel schemes including matters pertaining to sustainability and modular construction. Sarah Hale spearheads the practice and counts promotion and golden brick agreements, conditional contracts, and overage amongst her areas of focus. Housing and property disputes specialist Kane Kirkbride is also a key contact alongside employment law expert Siobhan Fitzgerald and David Isaacson, who is experienced in advising the housing, local government and charities sectors.

      Practice head(s):

      Sarah Hale

      Other key lawyers:

      Kane Kirkbride; Siobhan Fitzgerald; David Isaacson

      Testimonials

      ‘Good plot sales team that provide regular updates and are proactive in their approach to sales progression.’

      ‘Forward thinking with their ability to engage clients on relevent topics. They understand the business well and provide pragmatic solutions.’

      ‘Siobhan Fitzpatrick –  Works collaboratively and understands the business well when giving advice. Well rounded and pragmatic advice with clear understanding of complex employment matters.’

      ‘Working with TLT is incredibly collaborative. They make sure that they understand the client’s objectives but also advise on improvements of which we may not be aware. They then tailor the advice to meet the co-created objectives.’

      ‘Kane Kirkbride demonstrates a real commitment to the social housing sector and to our social purpose. He understands us as an organisation and he always seeks to ensure that the services he and his team provide are value for money.’

      ‘Sarah Hale and the team provide sound advice as well as commercially practical solutions to contract negotiation points. The TLT team conduct thorough site inspections from the outset that help with the initial due diligence and builds a picture of the contract from the start.’

      ‘Excellent and professional team.’

      ‘Sarah Hale has stood out for me as she has been on the ball and able to get decent advice exactly when needed.’

      Key clients

      Stonewater

      The Guinness Partnership Limited

      Sovereign

      Elim Housing Association

      Town and Country Housing Group

      Curo Places Limited

      Silva Homes Limited

      Livewest Homes Limited

      Bromford Housing Association

      Southern Housing Group Limited

      Abundance Investments

      Work highlights

      • Advising Guinness on the acquisition of 343 plots over three phases from Crest Nicholson at Gloucester Quays.
      • Advised Town and Country Housing on its partnership with Legal & General Modular Homes to acquire a site in Kent for the development of 153 modular homes.
      • Advised Curo on the acquisition of land in central Bristol for the development of 32 affordable homes together with a back to back development agreement from Autograph Homes.

      Tozers Solicitors LLP

      Apart from its property work and social housing management, Tozers Solicitors LLP has also recently been increasingly involved in housing disrepair claims. With offices in Exeter, Newton Abbot and Teignmouth, the firm has a strong presence in the South West region. Practice head Stephen Burtchaell is located in Exeter and specialised in complex registered provider property work. Amanda Bonnick joined the Exeter office in October 2021 from a previous position at Wollens and covers a range of matters for housing associations such as property development, site acquisitions, and site disposals. Deborah Black left the firm in summer 2021.

      Practice head(s):

      Stephen Burtchaell

      Other key lawyers:

      Amanda Bonnick

      Key clients

      North Devon Homes Limited

      Plymouth Community Homes

      Livewest Homes Limited

      Bromford Housing Group

      South Western Housing Society

      Abri

      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

      Stonewater

      Northampton Partnership Homes

      Plymouth Community Homes

      Coastline Housing Limited

      North Devon Homes Limited

      Ocean Housing Limited

      The Guinness Partnership

      Sovereign Housing Association

      Magna Housing

      Work highlights

        Trowers & Hamlins LLP

        Based in Exeter, the affordable housing team at Trowers & Hamlins LLP advises both new entrants as well as longstanding players of the social housing market in addition to joint ventures between the public and private sectors. Georgina Savill-James leads the team and works across all matters of residential property. Hannah Jackson, head of the real estate finance security team, regularly deals with due diligence of large portfolios of residential property assets for a variety of clients such as housing associations. Senior associate Jack Frier represents registered providers and national developers in the acquisition and sales of development sites.

        Practice head(s):

        Georgina Savill‐James

        Other key lawyers:

        Hannah Jackson; Jack Frier

        Testimonials

        ‘Trowers and Hamlins provide exemplar legal services relating to social housing. Their staff teams are fully briefed and aware of the pertinent issues within the sector and are pro-active in their advice and approach.’

        ‘Jack Frier has been a pleasure to work with.’

        ‘Jack Frier has excellent communication qualities, and the ability to dissect complex issues and break them down into a way which is easy to understand.’

        ‘The team is very proactive and quick to respond to queries. The will raise flags and suggest solutions to issues. They are flexible and bring in team members as an when needed.’

        ‘Georgina Savill-James has led on my projects. She goes above and beyond to deal with issues and queries in a quick and efficient manner. She has represented our interests well and has made it a priority to understand what we as a client need. I can trust her to speak for me and represent my best interests.’

        ‘The T&H team is very knowledgeable about the housing association sector.’

        ‘Highly experienced team specialising in the affordable housing sector.’

        ‘I have worked closely with Jack Frier, and I have always found him to be extremely approachable, knowledgeable and helpful. He will always go out of his way to assist and provides a service above and beyond what would normally be expected.’

        Key clients

        One Lockleaze LLP

        Legal & General Affordable Homes

        Phoenix Community Housing Association (Bellingham and Downham) Limited

        Hyde Group

        Abri Group Limited

        Brighter Places

        Vistry Partnerships Limited

        Work highlights

        • Advised L&G Affordable Homes on various projects across the region and wider area including some direct delivery schemes.
        • Advised on the joint venture between Goram Homes and Vistry Partnerships Limited in the sale of 147 dwellings at Lockleaze, Bristol to Bristol City Council.
        • Advising Phoenix Community Housing Association (Bellingham and Downham) Limited on its portfolio purchase from London & Quadrant Housing Trust.