BLP snatches British Waterways Docklands work from panel firms

British Waterways has rejected its panel firms in favour of Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), which trounced rivals for the main role on a £2bn regeneration project.

BLP’s first-ever instruction for British Waterways, a public corporation which manages 2,000 miles of rivers and canals, came after winning a tender against five other firms, understood to include Nabarro Nathanson and Denton Wilde Sapte.

Although Dentons has won a role acting alongside BLP, providing advice on certain property and planning aspects involved in the project to redevelop London’s Wood Wharf, BLP is understood to have secured the lion’s share of the work.

It will act for British Waterways on the procurement of its development and investment partners, the financing of the project and the corporate structure.

Dentons has represented British Waterways for a number of years and is also a panel firm. Other practices known to act for the company include Herbert Smith, Ashurst Morris Crisp, Burges Salmon, Norton Rose and Wragge & Co.

The Wood Wharf project involves the redevelopment of the 20-acre brownfield site next to Canary Wharf. Wood Wharf will include 3.5 million sq ft of commercial space, a hotel, 1,500 homes and development of a new canal.

Expecting to span several years, the deal will be completed in four phases to coincide with a build-out of the existing transport lines, including the Jubilee line and an extension of the Docklands Light Railway. The first phase is expected to begin in 2005.

Frances McLeman, a corporate partner at BLP who is leading the team, said that the firm had received an invite to tender, and won the work because of its previous experience in this field, rather than any connections within British Waterways.

“One of the key reasons for appointing us was the strength and depth of the team’s expertise and also our reputation for this sort of project,” she added.

BLP has previously advised Liverpool City Council in relation to the Paradise Street (one of the largest urban regenerations in Europe), Westminster City Council on the Grosvenor Dock Project and the Greater London Authority on the London Bridge Development.

The Dentons team is led by client relationship partner Madeleine Smallwood.