From site acquisition and strategic planning to construction contracts and disputes and plot sales, we have the legal expertise and in-depth sector knowledge to provide you with a commercial, efficient service which is tailored to your needs. We act for many household names, including some of the country's largest housebuilders, commercial developers and construction firms.

Our team of dedicated development lawyers includes specialists in:

We understand the legal and commercial issues you face and will always act in your best interests whilst delivering a comprehensive, cost-effective service.

We keep on top of legal developments and will proactively advise you on how they will affect your business. Our experience of working in the rapidly changing landscape of development and construction means we are uniquely placed to advise on any opportunities and challenges in this area.

How we support clients across the development life cycle

Strategic development

We work closely with most of the leading agents. Following appraisals, we can then advise on how to achieve maximum benefit by promotion, option or conditional contract. Recent work highlights include:

Client name confidential

The strategic residential team in our Leicester office, which is headed by Nick James, have a number of regional and national household named developers as its clients. Over the past year, the team have assisted one national developer with the strategic acquisition of five large residential development sites, providing in excess of 1,200 housing units across the South and East Midlands, with many more instructions coming through for strategic acquisitions within the next year. As an example of the nature, type and level of work undertaken by them they have recently completed on the acquisition from a landowner of an outline consented residential development scheme for circa 600 units. With the assistance of our dedicated planning team initial due diligence was undertaken on the existing consent and its Planning Agreement. Thereafter Nick’s team dealt with the amendment and negotiation of the acquisition contract. There were a multitude of complex matters which needed to be addressed during negotiations, such as the enlargement of drainage rights on third party unregistered land (part of which being beneath railway land), the ability to connect into existing roadways in private ownership to create the required loop road for the scheme and separate temporary access rights and lease for construction access purposes, leading to various additional documentation being required upon which the team were instructed upon. The Firm are now on behalf of the client instructed with the development agreement associated with the disposal of the affordable housing to the registered provider and various other utility/statutory disposals.

Braintree District Council

The commercial property team acted for Braintree District Council in the £6m acquisition of the Horizon 120 commercial development site - a 65 acre site in an approved Master Plan allocation for development of not less than 65,000sqm of mixed commercial floor space falling within Class B, Class C1 and Class D1 of the Use Class Order together with an area of land for allotments. This involved contract negotiations with two separate landowners, which needed to synchronise on planning and completion timeframes, and deliver in accordance with Cabinet approvals. In addition, the main site acquisition required further complex negotiations as to delivery of retained land access involving complex construction and cost payments, securing overage for future enhanced value and pre-emption rights in favour of the Council.

Persimmon Homes

The commercial property team act for Persimmon across their various regions including Anglia, Midlands and Essex. The team has recently advised on a conditional contract dependent on planning consent for a 187-unit site which involved complex contractual provisions to ensure delivery of section 106 obligations and to facilitate access and servicing of the seller’s retained land, together with imposed ransom strip provisions. The team in Leicester also advised on the acquisition of the last phase within a development, such acquisition being conditional on satisfactory reserved matters approval, with complex obligations being required within the contract obliging the seller to deliver access and services and the site remediation works within a set time frame and apportioning responsibility for discharge of the various outline planning conditions.

Tax considerations

Capital or income and whether you might require to suspend to any impact on your personal or corporate tax regime. Recent work highlights include:

Client name confidential

We were instructed by the client to investigate the implications of unpicking an existing collaboration deal between themselves and another developer which would have triggered a significant cost in SDLT. By restructuring the arrangements and amending the contacts with careful drafting we managed to avoid any transfers of land and a significant sum in SDLT.

Client name confidential

A client approached us to work through the implications of a development agreement which involved the landowner retaining some land with a new property to be built by the developer on it. We advised on the timing and structuring of the arrangements together with preparation of contracts to avoid triggering unnecessary tax charges for the landowner and SDLT charges for the developer, saving costs for both parties to the deal.

Client name confidential

We advised a consortium of private landowners, trustees and charities on the tax structuring of arrangements with the developer to minimise the tax implications and therefore maximise value on sale. This included presenting different options to the consortium from cross-options and partnerships to land pooling, and calculating and illustrating cashflow forecasting net of tax over the full payment period to inform decisions on the level and acceptability of deferred payment arrangements beneficial to the developer, and therefore to achieving a deal.

Complex planning

Strategic advice on the prospects of securing planning permission. Advice to protect against successful challenge, minimising CIL liability and dealing with complex planning obligations. Recent work highlights include:

Endurance Estates / Pigeon Group

The team remain one of the planning solicitors of choice for major promoters, Endurance Estates and Pigeon Group. Over the past year, the team have been or are involved in no less than 15 projects across the Eastern Regions and beyond, which collectively involve delivery of circa. 2,000 homes and commercial development. The team’s advice focuses on strategic and technical advice on how best to secure planning permission and avoid successful judicial review, including complex section 106 and planning condition negotiations, and advice concerning Environmental Impact Assessment and Appropriate Assessment. The team also supports regularly in the context of planning appeals and local plan examinations and local plan / supplementary planning document consultations.

East Cambs Trading Company / This Land Ltd

The team continue to act for developers This Land Ltd (largely owned by Cambridgeshire County Council) and East Cambs Trading Company (largely owned by East Cambridgeshire District Council) on a wide range of residential led schemes in Cambridgeshire in excess of 1,500, dwellings, including strategic allocations and five year land supply schemes. The team’s advice focuses on cradle to grave delivery of these projects from acquisition through to grant of planning permission and construction. This includes strategic advice on viability, application strategy, section 106 agreements, and how best to secure planning permissions without delay and risk of judicial review challenge.

Breckland District Council

The planning team continues to work with Breckland Council to help bring forward a sustainable urban extension comprising 4,000 dwellings, commercial development and link road in Norfolk. Our work has involved strategic and complex advice throughout the application process and, following the team’s continued success of defending judicial review challenges to planning permissions in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, ensured that the planning permission was issued robustly. Complex advice was provided in respect of Environmental Impact Assessment and Appropriate Assessment, in addition to complex section 106 negotiations and negotiation of planning conditions to enable appropriate phased delivery of this strategically important scheme.

Site acquisition and disposals

Completion of transaction for land owners and developers (including S. 106 owners and development agreements). Recent work highlights include:

Persimmon Homes

The team has recently advised on the purchase of a 248 dwelling residential development site in Thurston, via exercise of existing option. The acquisition included commercial complexities and required supplemental advice on matters including property, planning and highways. The team also continues to act in relation to a number of large scale residential led acquisitions in Suffolk and Essex regions.

Client name confidential

The strategic development team has assisted one of its national developer clients with the exercise of an existing option agreement for a circa 275 unit scheme in Leicestershire, such scheme being phase 1 of a much larger Sustainable Urban Extension for in excess of 2,700 units. The acquisition included advising the client on the terms of the existing option agreement, preparing purchase documentation and protracted negotiations with a third party developer to acquire a ransom strip required to procure delivery of an emergency access road and other cross-parcel rights required.

Norwich University of the Arts

The team advised on acquisition of a site for Norwich University of the Arts for educational facilities and student accommodation development. This involved the purchase of freehold land from Norwich City Council to transform an existing site into new teaching and student accommodation while also improving a neglected riverside location within the City Centre. The redevelopment proposal includes the demolition of existing buildings and construction of a new academic site including lecture theatre, teaching facilities and circa 100 student rooms plus a new fully accessible riverside public space. The deal was an unconditional purchase of part of Norwich City Council’s property portfolio subject to an existing occupational lease and the grant of a short term leaseback of part of the site to the City Council prior to commencement of the client’s redevelopment. Extensive negotiations and detailed drafting were required to minimise risk to the proposed future development.

Mulberry Commercial Developments Limited

The team acted for Mulberry on a commercial development site in Bedford, acquired by way of sub-sale, for £5 million. Mulberry acquired part of site from the intermediate seller, with the transaction requiring complex negotiation of rights and reservations and access issues.


Encapsulating joint venture documentation, build licences, professional appointments, warranties, building contracts and managing any disputes which arise. Recent work highlights include:

Alaris Developments Limited

The team advised a developer client on the termination of a replacement contractor in respect of a multi-unit residential development. We advised on post termination obligations and duties as well as initial dispute resolution advice.

Onesite Solutions Limited

The team advised a specialist metalwork manufacturer in respect of a contract for 2km of steel walkways at Luton Airport. We provided advice on the terms of the initial contract as well as on subsequent vesting arrangements and general commercial advice.

Hampton Brook (UK) Limited

The team continue to act for Hampton Brook and related companies in respect of a number of commercial and retail development sites. We have advised on, drafted and negotiated JCT building contracts, professional appointments, collateral warranties and related security documentation. In undertaking this work the team has had to liaise with tenants, landlords and funders to ensure all parties’ interests are aligned and risks allocated appropriately. In addition the team has been providing ongoing contractual and strategic advice in respect of extension of time claims, payment obligations and general management of the relationship with contractors.

Fleur Developments Limited

The team acted for this award winning house builder in preparing a bespoke suite of construction documents, consisting of professional appointments, sub-contracts and collateral warranties. We were requested to review and update the client’s existing documents to provide a JCT compatible suite that could be used on all future projects. This required preparation of a variety of contracts, both long and short form, with back-to-back warranties and appointments. We continue to provide ongoing advice and guidance to the client in letting and managing the contracts.


We are highly experienced in commercial investments, or for residential developments our dedicated plot sales teams will deal with site set up and disposals on your behalf. Recent work highlights include:

Charles Street Buildings

Our Leicester office recently acted on behalf of longstanding client of the firm, Charles Street Buildings (Leicester) Limited, in its purchase of the prestigious Conservative Party headquarters in Westminster for £51.5 million from Aviva Investors. The team, led by Nick James, were required to undertake its due diligence and settle the legal documentation to ensure a completion date within 5 working days of receiving the agreed heads of terms. To do this, our separate areas of specialism and their teams worked closely together to review the planning history relating to recent refurbishment works, construction regarding those works and the provision of appointments with associated warranties, reviewing the various subject leases and their variations, investment on the acquisition documentation itself and the negotiation and settlement thereof. With the ability to use our coordinate our separate teams we were able to press ahead and achieve our client objectives and deadlines.

East Cambs Trading Company Limited

The commercial property team advised the client on its purchase of an ex-MOD site in Ely previously used as service family accommodation and open spaces. The deal was complicated by 4 separate overage arrangements and complex profit arrangements. The deal was politically controversial at a local government level but approved as a way to quickly meet local housing need. The team’s role in the matter included drafting and negotiating the sale documentation, including strategic advice at Heads of Terms stage; carrying out detailed due diligence, including preparing a CLLS Certificate of Title for the lender; drafting and negotiating the loan documentation and profit share arrangements; and liaising with all parties to co-ordinate exchange and completion of the loan, sale and sub-sale.

Mulberry Property Development Limited

The team in Northampton advised on the site set-up for large residential development schemes with over 200 plots per scheme. We acted on the estate set up and subsequent plot sales for eight of the client’s residential developments in the Midlands including high profile, large developments at London Road, Bicester and Coventry Road, Lutterworth.

Real estate finance

Structuring finance solutions for development transactions, including senior and mezzanine credit. Advising both developers raising finance and funders providing facilities to those developers.

Confidential client

The Banking team, working alongside the Norwich Commercial Property team, was instructed in relation to a £21m facility to refinance indebtedness in relation to existing schemes. Facilities were provided to our client, a regional real estate development & investment business, by an Irish debt fund. Our work included advice across the full range of Real Estate Finance issues.

Confidential client

The Banking team, working alongside the Northampton Commercial Property team, was instructed in relation to a £24m Revolving Credit Facility. Facilities were provided to our client, a leading regional house builder, by a clearing bank to facilitate further site acquisition and development activity. Our work included advice across the full range of related Real Estate Finance issues.

Confidential client

The Banking team, working alongside the Cambridge Commercial Property team, was instructed in relation to a £25m financing. Facilities were provided to our client, the in-house commercial division of a local authority, by public bodies to fund a site acquisition from the MOD and subsequent development activity. Our work included advice across the full range of related Real Estate Finance issues.

Confidential client

The Banking team, working alongside the Norwich Commercial Property team, has been instructed by a small award-winning developer, in relation to the financing for a number of coastal schemes. Advice has covered the financing of specific schemes on a SPV basis, but also more complex joint venture structures involving equity investors alongside senior and mezzanine debt.

Confidential client

The Banking team, working alongside the Milton Keynes Commercial Property team, has been instructed by a small, award winning developer, in relation to the financing for small residential schemes. The team has also been instructed on subsequent financings for the principals of that developer as investors in other joint venture projects with likeminded developers.

Our clients
Some of our clients in the Development sector


  • Axis Land Partnerships
  • Bennett Homes
  • Barratt Homes
  • Bayfield Homes
  • Braintree District Council
  • Charles St Buildings Group
  • Countryside
  • Darby Group
  • Davidsons Homes
  • Endurance Estates
  • Flagship Homes
  • Glavenhill
  • Hampton Brook
  • Hill
  • Jelson
  • Laragh Homes
  • Mulberry Property Developments
  • Nuveen
  • Persimmon
  • Pigeon Investment Management
  • Saffron Housing Trust
  • Taylor Wimpey
  • This Land
  • Turnstone
  • Vistry Group


What people say about us

"A commercially astute team of leading lawyers in their field, which has a unique ability of interpreting the law, whilst understanding the commercial objectives of a project in its application."

"Howes Percival is excellent at covering all the aspects of work undertaken by an investment and development property company. Complex lettings, land transactions and acquisitions are handled with great skill and practicality."

- Legal 500

"I thoroughly enjoy working with the Howes Percival team. They are all very friendly and will bend over backwards to get work done within timescales. They are an energetic and enthusiastic team that are up to speed on relevant legal issues."

“Clients describe the team as ‘excellent’, adding that they ‘offer pragmatic advice.’”

- Chambers and Partners

‘Nick James is ultra-commercial and Stuart Burns is superb at detail‘

‘Howes Percival is excellent at covering all the aspects of work undertaken by an investment and development property company. Complex lettings, land transactions and acquisitions are handled with great skill and practicality‘

"Overall, the firm has a strong team with good sector specialists. I have found them to be good and approachable."

"The firm has first-rate understanding of planning law and practice combined with a commercial approach and very high standards of client care."

"A commercially astute team of leading lawyers in their field, which has a unique ability of interpreting the law, whilst understanding the commercial objectives of a project in its application."

"The firm provides proactive and pragmatic advice when you most need it during the various stages of the planning process."

"A critical friend, often an integral part of our project teams. The Howes Percival planning team seriously punches above its weight when compared to many other practices."

"Paul Wootton is an outstanding lawyer in his field - approachable, pragmatic and well respected in the market place. Jay Mehta is a shining star."

- Client testimonials featured in The Legal 500 2020 edition

"A commercially astute team of leading lawyers in their field, which has a unique ability of interpreting the law, whilst understanding the commercial objectives of a project in its application."

- Legal 500

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