1. What type of legal advice do you provide?
As a partner in the Real Estate team, I regularly advise on a wide variety of real estate transactions. My particular focus is around secured finance and residential development, and I regularly act for developers and funders on these types of deals.
2. Why did you choose your specialism?
To an extent I fell into it. I didn’t particularly enjoy “land law” whilst at university but when you get into practice it is very different to the dry, academic subject you are taught. I have found that there is a real sense of achievement in getting deals over the line and enjoy the fact that everyone is ultimately working towards a common goal.
3. What type of work does your team do that is relevant to Homes England? Or have you been involved in any Homes England projects?
Home England facilitate development, so everything they do has a real estate angle to it. The team work across all aspects of real estate from buying and selling land, dealing with overage arrangements, negotiating building leases and funding developments whether through debt, grant or equity through to selling plots. We also cover wider specialisms such as construction and planning.
I haven’t yet been directly involved in any projects for Homes England but hope to in the future.
4. What was your most memorable outcome for a client, and why?
I would say the most memorable deal I have been involved in recently has been the University of Gloucestershire’s purchase and redevelopment of the old Debenhams building in Gloucester which will become a new city campus.
I have lived in Gloucester for over 20 years now since I left university, and despite the amazing cathedral we have the city centre has often felt a little unloved and lacking in investment. I hope that transforming what is an iconic art deco building in the centre of the city into a thriving hub for students and the wider community will prove to be a real boost locally – which can only be a good thing for Gloucester.
As the retail landscape changes we also have to find creative ways to repurpose our city centres and this is a great example of that. Even playing just a small part in the Debenhams redevelopment is very rewarding.
5. How have you supported your local community?
I have been a governor at my two boys’ primary, then secondary, schools. Having never worked in education, but with a wife who was a teacher, I found it a really good way to get involved – even if it took me a while to learn the language – they do love an acronym!
I have also supported other community projects where I can on a pro-bono basis, including recently assisting the local scout club on the purchase of their scout hut to help secure their long term future.
6. Why do you think a commitment to helping the planet is important? Can you give any examples where you have made a change to help the planet?
As a species we have to find a way to live sustainably as planet earth is the only home we have, and an amazing one at that. That the next generation is staring at a future where so many of the worlds ecosystems are under threat, from coral reefs to the rainforests, is a sad indictment of our record to-date.
The built environment is always going to be a big part of our energy consumption. However, the property sector seems to be getting there – over my working career, whether through the energy performance of existing building stock or a more sustainable approach to development, it feels like progress is being made, even if it is slow at times. I have advised a number of clients over the recent changes to minimum energy efficiency standards and how this impacts on properties they already own or are looking to acquire.
For me personally, I do my bit to help where I can including recycling, and walking and using public transport rather than driving. I do hope within my lifetime we can properly turn the corner and start to repair some of the damage we have done. I think the next generation coming through instinctively “get it” and I hope that their record is better.