Over a period of 15+ years, Shoosmiths’ strategic land team has advised Hallam Land Management Limited on a complex mixed use development at North East Bridgwater, from initial site assembly through to completed and ongoing aspects of development.
Long-term builds bring a number of challenges, but an essential ingredient in the successful delivery of such schemes is diligent project management. Early setbacks in a project can lead to lengthy delays further down the line, adding to the overall cost for the developer, so there is huge value in having a team of forward-focused lawyers able to anticipate issues, ensuring deadlines are hit and each parcel of land is opened up effectively. Our team’s ability to work closely with Hallam over many years to assess risks and coordinate timely support on real estate, planning, construction and finance issues was a key factor in the smooth delivery of what were often intensive legal transactions.
The project comprised various stages, from pre-planning site assembly through option agreements with multiple landowners to planning permission and section 106 agreements. There were complex deals with industrial occupiers for access rights and provision of infrastructure through third-party land, the securing of funding through the Regional Infrastructure Grant and Housing Infrastructure Grant schemes, as well as building contracts, contractor appointments, warranties etc. There were disposals to Morrisons for a major regional distribution centre and Mulberry for a leather goods factory, as well as a 2,000-unit residential development scheme to BDW, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon.
There were also a number of challenges at various stages of the project, such as dealing with the termination of rights for an oil pipeline owned by Shell, which ran under the site and had the potential to cause significantly delay to the project. There was the critical need to secure rights for access and construction of various infrastructure, including a primary school and new bridge over the main Bristol-London railway line, the latter of which entailed negotiations with Network Rail to secure underground and air rights under and above the railway line. Our team was able to work together with Hallam to efficiently resolve these issues.
Our understanding of the land assembly, planning and delivery process was critical in ensuring that this project was a success – enabling our client to focus on the commercial issues, safe in the knowledge that the legal aspects were being taken care of by a team who knows the strategic land sector inside out.