Crown Estate kicks off hunt for rural panel members

The Crown Estate has launched a panel review of its rural roster which currently features Burges Salmon and Clarke Willmott.

The body has sent out tender documents and will make the final decision on the new line-up by the end of May 2014. According to general counsel Vivienne King, the Crown Estate asks firms for one operational partner and one lead partner who has to be a management or senior board member.

Clarke Willmott won a role on the rural panel in 2007 along with long-term adviser Burges Salmon but it will now be asked to tender again along with the other competing firms.

Burges Salmon has a close relationship with the organisation, having been reappointed to its urban panel in 2011 as well as winning a rural panel spot in 2007. Associate Matthew Sims led the firm’s mandate advising on the £31m sale of the group’s Honda depot in January 2014.

The rural panel was slashed in half seven years ago when Foot Anstey, Manby & Steward and Aaron & Partners were also on the roster but the number is expected to remain at two after the next review.

It is one of three rosters the Crown Estate operates, with 15 firms in total appointed across its urban, rural and energy rosters.

King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin, Hogan Lovells, Lawrence Graham, Forsters and Pemberton Greenish all won spots on the firm’s urban panel in 2011.

The Estate’s Scottish panel was renewed in 2013 when Anderson Strathern (8 May 2013) was appointed. In July the same year the Estate appointed Norton Rose Fulbright and Bond Dickinson to sit on its slimmed-down energy panel. But in Northern Ireland Pinsent Masons lost out on work to Arthur Cox in August (19 August 2013).

Legacy SJ Berwin and Hogan Lovells took prime spots on the group’s Regent Street regeneration team, led by chair and real estate disputes head Nicholas Cheffings for Hogan Lovells and SJ Berwin partner Bryan Pickup in 2012. 

Burges Salmon also takes a key role on the portfolio’s urban work in St Jame’s. The Estate has launched a £320m scheme in the area with partner Oxford Properties and owns almost 50 per cent of the buildings in St James’s.

Each of the Estate’s panel reviews is organised by a different one of the portfolio’s four in-house lawyers and run in line with the Crown’s procurement team. They are all put in place for a three to five-year period with the legal function reviewed each year.

The Crown Estate is one of the largest property portfolios owned by the Crown and one of the largest property portfolios in the UK with a profit of £252.6m for the 2012/13 financial year. The portfolio invests in land for wind energy as well as prime central London property.