Property specialist Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) stumbled across a web of planning and highways difficulties while acting for Defence Estates on the sale of its Guildford barracks to Laing Homes.
The deal, which took two years to complete, is estimated to have been one of the largest residential land sales in the South East of England in recent years. The deal remains price sensitive but cost more than £100m.
Candice Blackwood, a BLP property partner involved in the negotiations, says that the bulk of the work was carried out in the last six months.
She says: "There were particular difficulties as the barracks is on unregistered land and because of the sensitive nature of the use. In addition, there were very complex discussions with Guildford and Surrey borough councils about access to the site. It's a huge development and it's unusual for Laing Homes to build schemes this size."
Laing Homes, which was represented by its in-house legal team headed by Alison Rayner, will pay Defence Estates on a staged basis dependent on certain planning targets. Laing has just applied for planning permission.
The 57-acre former Queen Elizabeth Park Barracks in Guildford was the home of the Women's Royal Army Corps and a map and chart depot. It is one of the last major brownfield sites in the borough.
BLP, which was joined by estate agents Weatherall Green & Smith in the Laing Homes deal, has been on Defence Estates' law firm panel for the past six years. This deal is part of a continued rationalisation of Defence Estates which the firm has been working on.
Blackwood worked with planning partner Tim Smith on the deal. They were assisted by Tim Norman in property and James Salford in property finance.