NEWCASTLE firms Ward Hadaway and Wheldon Houlsby & Scott have merged to become one of the biggest practices in the north of England. The merged firm, to be known as Ward Hadaway, will have a total staff of 190, including 30 partners, 57 other fee-earners, five chartered town planners and one chartered surveyor. The firm will offer one of the largest town planning specialities in the region. Wheldon Houlsby & Scott acts for five health and housing associations and Ward Hadaway also handles town planning work. The new firm's main focus will be commercial work. Two London firms have also merged, with Bonds joining Rayner De Wolfe to create a 10-partner firm with 20 fee-earners. The new practice will be known as Rayner De Wolfe. Bonds senior partner Paul Bond is to act as a consultant to the firm. Bonds' two other partners and a legal executive have joined Rayner De Wolfe.