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Our housebuilder expertise

Clarke Willmott’s multi-disciplinary, multi-office housebuilder sector encompasses all areas of law it takes to build a home, from land buying, planning and construction to site set up and plot conveyancing. We are regarded as leading legal advisers to the residential development sector, acting for three of the nation’s five largest housebuilder firms. We also advise strategic land companies, smaller traditional builders and niche start-up ventures.

The Sector is comprised of over 48 specialist lawyers and is led by Philip Thompson who previously worked as an in-house Legal Director at a national housebuilder. Currently the team have a presence in Birmingham, Bristol, London, Manchester, Taunton and Southampton but is continually expanding its practice to meet demands.

How we can help you

Commercial property

Our partner-led team of commercial property solicitors is one of the largest in the UK. Operating across England and Wales, the team provides the expertise of more than 100 lawyers who advise at every stage of the commercial property lifecycle, from first plans to sale.

Construction

We have specialist teams in contentious and non-contentious construction and advise on every aspect of the procurement process. Our comprehensive understanding of the industry coupled with strong commercial awareness is essential to providing focussed, proactive legal advice to our housebuilder clients.

Property litigation

We have one of the largest property litigation teams in the UK and our broad expertise means we can support you with all your housebuilder litigation needs.

Although a ‘litigation’ team, the vast majority of disputes we work on are settled by negotiation or at mediation; only very rarely does a matter proceed to trial. Our aim is to secure your commercial objectives in the most efficient way possible and, by working with the rest of the housebuilder team, ensure that future disputes can be avoided.

Planning

Our nationally recognised planning and the environment solicitors provide expert advice on the full range of contentious and non-contentious planning and environmental law issues. We advise in relation to all forms of development and encompassing issues of housing development (including affordable housing).

What sets us apart and continues to bring clients back to us time and time again is our consistent ability to deliver timely commercial advice and to solve, rather than create, planning problems. Our experienced practitioners work alongside our clients and guide them through the complexities of the planning system and fast changing environmental laws.

Plot sales

Our plot sales team of more than 35 people works closely with our housebuilder clients to understand their requirements, the team’s expertise includes acquisition of development land as well as home sales.

Our clients

The sector’s clients include national PLC and regional residential development companies such as BDW Developments (consisting of trading companies Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes), Persimmon Homes, Countryside Properties, Vistry Homes, Vistry Group, Blue Cedar Homes, Crest, Metis and Mactaggart and Mickel.

Our recent experience

  • We acted for Persimmon on one of the largest residential development deals to take place in the South west for some time. The team helped secure land at Fiddington in Tewkesbury. This multi-million-pound development has planning permission for 850 plots. Clarke Willmott will also deal with the affordable housing sales.
  • We advised Persimmon on its unconditional freehold purchase of the large residential development site (c.400 units) at Langford Bridge, Newton Abbot, Devon. Our work included negotiating complex contractual arrangements relating to division of the Seller’s retained land, secured deferred consideration, three distinct overage mechanisms and creation of covenants binding various parcels of land to safeguard future facilitation of adjoining commercial development and education provision, dovetailing with s.106 requirements. The site is a key part of Teignbridge’s Local plan and the wider development includes employment land and infrastructure space, offering great benefit to the local area and residents.
  • We continue to act for Countryside Homes on the redevelopment of the Waltham Forest Town Hall site where Countryside have now obtained planning consent for Phase 2 of the development, which will comprise 433 new homes (50% affordable), a new civic building and amenity space, commercial units and new sustainable wetlands. We acted in respect of continuing development matters with Waltham Forest Borough Council and on the sale of the affordable housing units at the site to a registered provider.
  • Providing advice and assistance to vary the planning obligations on viability grounds relating to a 350-dwelling Vistry development in Torbay which is partially complete. The obligations to be amended include a viability review mechanism (which only takes account of an increase in revenue and not costs) and the reduction of affordable housing and contributions due to terminal viability issues which may result in the mothballing of the site. The LPA has not been co-operative. Work so far has involved three applications and two appeals (neither of which has yet been determined). We have also made a formal complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. The latest appeal is proceedings by way of a hearing and Caroline Waller will act as advocate at the appeal hearing.

What our clients say about us

“The team are very client-focused, quick to react to issues as they arise and good engagement from partner level down.” The Legal 500 2022

“A good team with very capable skillsets to cover all property requirements, with a practical and commercial approach.”

“My impression of the planning team is one of excellence.” Chambers UK 2022

“Respected team well known for its representation of house builders as part of its strong development offering” Chambers UK 2020

Your key contacts

Meet our wider house builder team

With seven offices throughout England and Wales, Clarke Willmott is a national law firm with a local presence. Click to learn more about our wider team of legal professionals and how they can support you.

Meet the team

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