Wragges, Herbert Smith act on King's College sale

Wragge & Co lateral Gerald Bland teamed up with a former Herbert Smith colleague to help resolve the high-profile fight over 'Block Nine', a prized London site owned by King's College.

The battle culminated in the college council's decision not to sell the land opposite the Houses of Parliament to Allen & Overy client the Aga Khan, who made a £25m bid to make it the home of an Islamic museum and cultural centre.

Instead the land will go to Guy's and St Thomas' Charitable Foundation, advised by Withers, for just £10.5m, plus a package of additional benefits for King's College. It will be used to expand services at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital NHS Trust, which instructed Marisa Broadhurst at Beachcroft Wansbroughs. The college came under heavy pressure from the NHS to sell to Guy's and St Thomas'.

Property lawyer Bland, who is himself an alumni of King's, was instructed by the college's 40-strong council on the back of his long relationship with the client at Herbert Smith. John Wood, Herbert Smith's head of employment and trusts, advised the college itself.

Bland said: “This involved a complex mix of administrative, charity, trust and property law issues, resolved in an atmosphere full of possibilities. The uncertainty about the site had been causing great tension within the college and the hospital for over six months, so the imperative was to assemble a team of top advisers to get a decision from the council as soon as possible. We achieved that in six weeks.”

He added: “There were a lot of different interests in the college who were seeking a different result. The trick was trying to find some sensible middle ground that was acceptable to everyone.”

If the sale wins Charity Commission approval, it is likely that Herbert Smith will act for King's College. But Bland, who has just launched Wragges' London real estate presence, has taken with him to his new firm clients that include developer Carisbrooke (which last year carried out £200m worth of transactions), Delta Land and urban regenerator Suon.