Our people

700 professionals at Knights service 10,000 clients across the full spectrum of legal & professional services.

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Andy Bailey

Partner
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Andy Bailey

Partner

Andy is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Andy's clients include leading mine and minerals operators, landed estate owners and real estate developers who turn to him for his transactional skills and attention to detail.  He provides strategic insights, drawn from a career that takes in the first significant urban wind turbine construction in the UK and the challenges involved in the de-contamination of former factory sites for housing.

Andy has expertise in advising on routes to unlock asset value and he regularly assembles and manages multi-disciplinary teams to tackle challenges beyond real estate.

Recent examples of how Andy has helped clients include:

• enabling a landowner to sell, and a developer and house builder to transform, a former quarry into a mixed-use scheme of 200 houses, a superstore and a retirement village by advising on planning agreements, risk mitigation and complex engineering covenants;

• ensuring the successful merger between Newcastle-under-Lyme College and Stafford College; and

• enabling the construction of a major £15 million office headquarters by acting as the client's trusted advisor.

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Martin Billings

Partner
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Martin Billings

Partner

Martin is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Martin advises property investment and development businesses on a broad range of commercial real estate matters, including acquisitions and disposals, debt securitisation, new build site assembly, city centre redevelopment, asset restructuring, portfolio management and landlord and tenant relations.

Martin acts for private companies in the UK and foreign companies with UK property interests, including pension funds acting through investment vehicles.

Martin’s current clients include leading investment and development business MEPC, property developer and business parks owner Frasers Property UK, and the company behind the development of a new knowledge quarter in Oxford City, Thomas White Oxford.

Recent examples of how Martin has helped clients include:

  • supporting MEPC to renegotiate lease terms and secure vacant possession of units at Milton Park in Oxfordshire to pave the way for the creation of a new cancer research campus to be operated by Immunocore;
  • managing an ambitious project for Frasers Property UK to standardise the lease terms offered to tenants across five business parks in the south east of England after a £1 billion investment initiative; and
  • facilitating the acquisition of a stake in Milton Park by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board by supporting MEPC through the complex due diligence process and a subsequent unit trust sale.
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Russell Coddington

Partner
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Russell Coddington

Partner

Russell is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Russell advises on joint ventures, development of new sites, acquisition and disposal, and site feasibility for alternative use following restoration.  He also advises on acquisition and disposal of investment property and matters associated with the redevelopment of rural and commercial land, including multi-party option and promotion agreements.

Russell acts for landowners and operators in the mines and minerals sector, such as Hanson and The Hills Group, institutional investors including M&G Real Estate and First Property Group plc, and developers such as Henry Boot.

Recent examples of how Russell has helped clients include:

• enabling an institutional investor to purchase a distressed multi-let industrial estate and, by maintaining a good buyer-seller relationship, resolve delays due to title defects;

• enabling the extraction of gravel under a lease, despite uncertainties over third party utility infrastructure; and

• ensuring a developer and a builder could purchase and convert office space to residential use by drafting a contract that matched funding and works input and minimised legal costs.

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Nisha Gohel

Partner
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Nisha Gohel

Partner

Nisha is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Nisha advises on the non-contentious aspects of commercial property transactions, including land acquisitions, sales and purchases, financing arrangements and day-to-day portfolio management.  The majority of her work involves large scale, high-value new build or redevelopment projects and complex landlord and tenant arrangements calling for bespoke lease terms and unique structuring arrangements.  Alongside this she provides more general landlord and tenant advice on lease renewals and surrenders, consents to assignment and subletting, licences to carry out alterations and termination provisions. Nisha is fluent in Gujarati.

She acts for national retailers, SMEs, banks, investors, pension funds, private equity groups and venture capitalist organisations. Her clients include Poundstretcher Ltd, SIG plc, Sytner Group, Reel Cinemas Ltd, Shearer Property Group and Cambridge and Counties Bank Ltd.

Recent examples of how Nisha has helped clients include:

  • putting in place appropriate security for a bank which was lending £16 million to the owners of a chain of caravan parks in a part new, part refinancing deal to enable the business to expand and where there was another lender in the frame over which our banking client’s interests had priority; and
  • renegotiating lease terms and unit configuration with a number of tenants to ensure their presence in a property belonging to our landlord developer client did not interfere with a planned redevelopment of the property as part of a city centre retail and leisure scheme.
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Karen Herbert

Partner
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Karen Herbert

Partner

Karen is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Karen advises developers and property clients on land acquisitions, including freehold and leasehold titles, options for conditional contracts where the land purchase is dependent on detailed planning permission, on pre-lets on development sites where clients need to know they have end tenants in place, and on overage issues.

With multi-party deals a frequent feature of her practice, Karen liaises with landlords, funders’ solicitors and other third parties, undertakes due diligence, negotiates documentation, and investigates titles covering large pieces of land. She works collaboratively with clients, liaising with planning, construction and corporate colleagues.

Karen also advises banks and other lenders to ensure their security on commercial lending is watertight.  Her clients are mainly based in the East Midlands but own properties and development sites nationally, including Jelson Ltd, LSP Developments Ltd and Quora Developments Ltd.

Recent examples of how Karen has helped clients include:

  • successfully concluding the complicated transfer for land acquisition for a local centre, with development obligations on both the client and the seller, five pre-lets, step-in rights, liquidated damages and overage provisions;
  • exchanging a conditional contract as a going concern sale of a site to an investor, with a 999-year lease back of the first floor on completion;
  • successfully concluding the unconditional land acquisition for the purchase of a public house where tricky issues included historic overage, an existing restriction, new overage and title issues; and
  • completing a land acquisition on time, despite involving five sellers and seven titles, the sale of part of one title and the release of a third-party option.
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Jonathon Hogg

Partner
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Jonathon Hogg

Partner

Jonathon is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Jonathon's experience covers a range of commercial real estate transactions including the sale and purchase of freehold and leasehold premises, the acquisition of land for development and the drafting and negotiation of commercial leases and option agreements,

Jonathon acts for individuals and companies in a range of industry sectors and also acts for large-scale property investors and developers.

Recent examples of how Jonathon has helped clients include:

• enabling a client to secure a site for residential development worth £6.5 million by carrying out due diligence in 5 days, enabling the client to agree a deal for the site ahead of his rival developers;

• accelerating an investor's purchase of a £18 million property portfolio in London by leading a round table meeting between all parties to discuss the final issues, cutting out weeks of correspondence and delay; and

• enabling a business to expand into a new industrial unit by quickly negotiating favourable lease terms.

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James Lunt

Partner
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James Lunt

Partner

James is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

James advises on the full spectrum of real estate matters including development, options to acquire, land promotion agreements, the sale and purchase of commercial and agricultural property, non-contentious lease and asset management (acting for both landlord and tenant) and secured lending.

James works across the UK for property investors and promoters, developers, landed estates, asset managers and banks.

Recent examples of how James has helped clients include:

• enabling a property investment company  to forward purchase a new build 38,000 square feet warehouse subject to an agreement for lease to an occupational tenant,

• ensuring that the development agreement and lease fully protected both the the purchaser and its lender with appropriate new build and tenant obligations;

• securing a site for a land promoter by way of a promotion agreement and acting in the onward sale of the site for residential development;

• assisting in the sale of land to a national house builder conditional upon planning permission being granted and involving the negotiation and completion of a complex agreement involving drainage over adjoining development land; and

• purchasing a newly constructed petrol station for an investor with a national supermarket occupier, ensuring new build warranties and environmental reports were in place.

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Helen Nash

Partner
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Helen Nash

Partner

Helen is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Helen advises clients on all aspects of real estate law, with much of her work relating to long term projects for property development or onshore gas exploration which first require land assembly, option agreements or promotion agreements between landowners and developers.

When planning and extraction permissions have been achieved, Helen advises on the sale, purchase or lease negotiations and transactions; securing rights of access, overage provisions or imposing appropriate covenants, dealing with lease management issues such as permissions for change of use or sub-letting, and property finance.

Helen advises landlords, tenants and developers on property transactions throughout England and Wales. Her clients include international energy companies, national utilities, colleges and student organisations, property developers, local community groups and farmers.

Recent examples of how Helen has helped clients include:

• completing a lease to place crowd-funded solar panels on the roof of a local authority leisure centre on behalf of a community benefit society;

• resolving a dispute between two commercial landowners through the creation of a new right of way with unique conditions;

• completing the lease for one of the first on-shore gas extraction sites in the UK;

• minimising the impact of anti-fracking protestors on traffic by agreeing a lease for a safe alternative site for protest; and

• helping safeguard the financial future of a struggling farm by the negotiation of an option and promotion agreement with a property developer.

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Brona Simmonds

Partner
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Brona Simmonds

Partner

Brona is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Brona advises on the acquisition and sale of development sites, conditional contracts, options, promotion agreements, joint ventures, development and overage or clawback agreements, the sale and purchase of farms and agricultural land, agricultural tenancies and subsidies, heritage properties and tailored commercial and residential funding.

Brona's clients include landed estates, agricultural families, private business owners, developers, trusts, charities, local authorities and registered social landlords.

Recent examples of how Brona has helped clients include:

• identifying a risk in a complex multi-party funding agreement and improving the client's position;

• helping a client acquire units on a development site which required liaison with the local authority, a third-party developer and a grant funder within a strict timetable; and

• completing, in time for crop planting, the purchase of a large area of agricultural land which was being sold in lots by connected, but inefficient, sellers.

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Holly Smith

Partner
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Holly Smith

Partner

Holly is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Holly has over ten years experience in corporate real estate and property finance, working closely with colleagues in tax, construction and planning to conclude acquisitions and disposals development agreements, lease negotiations and occupancy arrangements.

Holly advises private and institutional lenders, investors, developers and occupiers across industry sectors.  Her particular expertise is real estate in the care sector, covering children's nurseries, nursing homes, pharmacies and dental practices.

Recent examples of how Holly has helped clients include:

• facilitating the purchase of a site comprising one dwelling for redevelopment of two separate dwellings by negotiating a conditional purchase agreement, securing planning permission and agreeing private equity funding;

• the purchase and refurbishment of a high-value apartment by negotiating with freehold and management on onerous leasehold restrictions and complex funding and building alteration issues; and

• ensuring a lender could proceed confidently with a developer's purchase of a site for an ice-rink by assessing complex multiple titles, restrictive covenants, extra planning checks and health and safety considerations.

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Siobhan Smyth

Partner
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Siobhan Smyth

Partner

Siobhan is a Partner in the Real Estate team.

Siobhan undertakes a broad range of commercial real estate work, including freehold and leasehold acquisitions and disposals, landlord and tenant matters and property portfolio management.  The majority of her time is spent on development projects where she helps to devise development management agreements, deals with funding arrangements, negotiates conditional contracts and rights of pre-emption, resolves site issues affecting development potential and concludes associated agreements for the grant of options and overage payments.

Siobhan’s clients include property developers, commercial property holding companies and individuals with a personal property portfolio.   She also acts for clients in corporate transactions with commercial real estate assets.  Her work spans a range of sectors, including the automotive industry.

Recent examples of how Siobhan has helped clients include:

  • acting for a major developer in the acquisition of a 120 acre site and dealing with associated finance arrangements and pre-let agreements with end users;
  • resolving issues around adverse covenants, unregistered land ownership and a lack of rights in respect of land purchased by a developer client which needed to be addressed before a proposed residential development could proceed; and
  • assisting a client with the refinancing of a large part of their commercial property portfolio using the specialist City of London Certificate of Title and dealing with the numerous additional lender reporting requirements this entails.
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Lee Hayes

Senior Associate
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Lee Hayes

Senior Associate

Lee is a Senior Associate in the Mines and Minerals team.

Lee provides advice on a range of commercial property matters, from the acquisition and disposal of quarries and industrial estates, to the taking or granting of leases and licenses for premises in multiple occupation and the creation or reservation of easements, wayleaves and options.  He also advises on the sale and purchase of potential development sites.

Lee acts for some of the UK's biggest producers of aggregates and building materials, and for private landowners and developers.

Examples of how Lee has helped clients include:

• negotiating the exchange of conditional contracts for the sale of a former brickworks in a deal worth £2.7 million where issues needed to be resolved around environmental permits, Japanese knotweed guarantees and newt protection;

• successfully completing the sale of two disused quarries, occupying a 350-acre site, which required the grant and removal of various rights and restrictions and the - resolution of issues of ownership in respect of existing stockpiles of minerals;

• securing an option agreement with one of the UK's largest supermarket chains for the sale of a development site worth £4 million, which avoided the landowner having to divide the site into lots to achieve the desired development scheme; and

• facilitating the acquisition of two redundant local authority-owned sites for a housing association for the token sum of £1, given the need for extensive environmental remediation works to be carried out before the sites could be brought back into use.