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This year, The Lawyer’s annual ranking of the largest UK law firms by turnover is available as an interactive, digital benchmarking tool. For the first time this will allow you to manipulate each data set against the metrics of your choice.
Lawyers to the Kingsway Partnership have finally advised on the signing of an £80m development agreement for the controversial Kingsway Business Park at Rochdale, but face continued opposition from landowners, including rival developer Deanbank Investments. The Kingsway Partnership includes housebuilder and developer Wilson Bowden, advised by Pinsent Curtis Biddle, the North West Regional Development Agency (NWDA), advised by Eversheds, and Rochdale Council, advised by Pannones. The scheme has already been a long haul for Pinsents. The scheme has been delayed for more than a decade by planning wrangles and has also become the first major scheme to come unstuck over the European law on environmental impact assessment (EIA) in 1999. Lead property partner Arthur Lovitt explained: "The Rochdale case established the need for the EIA to take into account the actual proposed scheme. Instead of appealing the decision, we obtained a fresh planning permission, which was upheld after a challenge." Detailed negotiations followed between English Partnerships and then NWDA, and also with Rochdale Council, before a grant of more than £31m was secured for the scheme. But the Kingsway Partnership still faces major obstacles. Legal teams are preparing for a public inquiry into Deanbank's rival scheme, which is scheduled to begin on 10 July. Deanbank's in-house counsel Paul Burgess is working with Halliwell Landau planning head Roger Lancaster on the matter. Deanbank owns 63 acres of the 420 acre site and one access point, all of which it will lose if a compulsory purchase order goes ahead. Burgess said: "We want to develop our land in line with the UDP [Unitary Development Plan] adopted by Rochdale. We invested many millions and we've not seen a return for our investment." He added: "The UDP allows for more than one developer to develop the site, whereas the approach being taken is a Big Brother approach of getting everything into one ownership." A compulsory-purchase inquiry also has to be held before work can start. Burgess said that he is hopeful the compulsory purchase order will not be confirmed. However, should the order go ahead, Deanbank and the other landowners will find themselves having to negotiate the value of their land.