Major growth shows Ward Hadaway is hot property | 10 April 07

THE property department at leading North-East law firm Ward Hadaway is gearing up for further growth in 2007 after seeing turnover almost double.

Fee income across the unit has risen by 93% over the past four years to reach a projected £8.5m in the 12 months to the end of April.

This rapid, sustained growth has been matched by an ongoing expansion in the size of the department.

The number of people working in the team has almost doubled to 109 over the past four years with the prospect of further jobs being created as the department continues to expand.

Ward Hadaway’s dominance of the North-East’s buoyant housebuilding sector, together with its strengths in commercial property and planning and a surge in public sector development work, have helped to drive the growth.

The firm is also winning a significant amount of work from clients outside its North-East heartland.

Neil Robson, head of property and planning at Ward Hadaway, said: “This excellent performance is a reflection of both the strength of the property sector within the North-East and the increasingly important role that the firm is playing in that growth.

“While we have undoubtedly benefited from a buoyant marketplace, we are also taking a larger share of that market as developers, housebuilders and public sector bodies look to Ward Hadaway to provide the high level of expertise which their projects require.

“It is especially pleasing to see the amount of work which the firm has secured from outside the North-East, demonstrating our ability to compete on a national scale and fly the flag for the region’s capabilities.”

Ward Hadaway’s commercial property work has continued to thrive under the leadership of Malcolm Lloyd as national companies look to the firm for high quality expertise at competitive rates.

Clients include Aldi, Gala Coral, Wilkinson Sword and Bank of Scotland while closer to home, the firm has advised North-East big hitters such as Sage and Northern Rock.

In the development sector, which is led by Alan Harkness, Ward Hadaway has a long-standing client list of the top builders in the country.

The firm has advised on schemes ranging from simple land acquisitions to major complex developments and recently helped Persimmon secure a £16.5m site to build 270 homes at Shildon in County Durham.

Ward Hadaway is also playing an increasingly large part in the regeneration of the region and in the renewal of education and healthcare facilities across the country.

Last year the firm recruited former Eversheds regional managing partner Chris Hugill to further boost its already strong presence in the public sector and regeneration.

This year it has won work from a consortium of 18 NHS Trusts in South Yorkshire, from Sunderland City Council and the Derwentside Council Sports Village.

The firm’s biggest and most recent win in the public sector was the joint contract to supply legal services to all five local authorities in the Tees Valley, including advice on major regeneration projects.

This added to an already long list of public/private sector partnership projects under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) education and LIFT (Local Investment Finance Trust) healthcare banners at locations ranging from Cumbria to Islington in London.

The property department’s planning team has also grown substantially over the past four years on the back of a rise in fee income and is now one of the largest of its kind in the region with 13 members.

Ward Hadaway was recently ranked as the highest earning law firm in the UK for planning consultancy work by industry publication Planning – the journal of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Mr Robson, who is the current president of Newcastle Law Society, said: “We have had a fantastic past few years thanks to the hard work of everyone in the department, but we will be looking to push on again going into 2008.”