Ward Hadaway’s housebuilding team is going from strength-to-strength, securing growth in what some hope is a bellwether sector for the pandemic recovery.
The team, part of the broader Built Environment group at the UK Top 100 firm, is one of the largest, most established specialist legal teams working in the housebuilding sector in the North.
It is led by Lesley Fairclough, who has over three decades of experience in the sector, working for regional and national clients. She works alongside specialist partners and senior colleagues, who take a proudly client-centric and hands-on approach to managing their clients' needs, ensuring a skilled, steadfast approach to land acquisition, development, regeneration, and selling new homes.
The team consists of a broad group of specialist property lawyers, qualified plans technicians and support staff. Recent promotions within the team include Stephen Carrick, Diane Lawson and Ian Knaggs, who have all been promoted to the newly created role of director, and Nick Winney, who is now a managing associate.
They work for national and regional housebuilders, social housing providers, landowners, developers, and local authorities on residential and mixed-use schemes.
Collectively the senior team members boast over 450 years of experience, which they continue to bring to bear for clients across the region and nationally, one of the reasons they were recently shortlisted for Legal Team of the Year at the national RESI Awards.
Commenting on the ongoing success of the team, Lesley Fairclough said; “We have built an enviable selection of loyal clients over the years. These include large residential house builders like Barratt / David Wilson Homes – one of the firm's first clients over thirty years ago - Keepmoat Homes, Story Homes, and social housing providers like Karbon, Bernicia, Livin and Home Group as well as family-run Hellens Residential - who won the 2020 Ward Hadaway North East Fastest 50 Award.
"We offer a complete service, from concept and viability through to acquisition, development and eventual sales, a proposition made all the stronger by involving our colleagues across the Build Environment group within Ward Hadaway, which incorporates construction, commercial development, finance and planning lawyers.
“Our clients turn to us again and again because they know we have a huge amount of experience, delivering pragmatic, straightforward advice which helps them achieve their goals and targets. We have the capacity and the skills to deal with all their needs, including high-volume sales especially at peak trading periods.”
Like almost all businesses over the last year, the housebuilding sector was not immune from challenges. The market has been buffeted by the pandemic, with some areas being more adversely affected than others. Partner Julia Thomson says that taking a supportive approach and helping clients navigate uncharted waters has resulted in even closer bonds.
“We’ve been proactively supporting all our clients through 2020 and into 2021, doing whatever it takes to help them. In some cases we have acted as signatories on behalf of the large house builders for instance, to enable them to continue to buy land for development and sell new homes through lockdown. We may be large, but that is the sort of personal service you can expect from the Ward Hadaway team.”
As part of the Government’s coronavirus recovery package, a rallying cry to ‘build, build, build’ bolstered the housing market and partner Sophie Bohill says that this has had a positive impact on the sector.
“We have been very busy on the residential development side, with the announcement that the Help to Buy scheme has been extended, and the news of the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday. And advances at the Land Registry have meant that documentation can be completed online, so house buyers and developers can continue with house sales, without the hold-ups that in-person signatures often cause.”
With the announcement by the Housing Secretary of a £12billion boost for affordable homes, Ward Hadaway's large and diverse team is supporting many house builders and developers who are under pressure to purchase land and build at pace.
Despite COVID-19, 2021 is set to be another good year following the team's success in the previous financial year, when the team helped to facilitate the completion of nearly 5,500 new homes - acting for one in ten new homes built and sold in the North of England. Their capacity, systems and most importantly skilled people places them in an ideal position to support housebuilders as they drive through sales, as the residential property boom continues.
Lesley concludes, “I am incredibly proud of the team. We have unrivalled experience, insight, energy and drive on our side and are always looking to support, add value and go above and beyond for our clients. We have earned the trust of our loyal clients by delivering time and again, offering practical, pragmatic advice and a quick and agile service when speed is required. We are all really looking forward to building on our success in 2021 and beyond.”