Spitalfields Development brings in Nabarros and CC to review Norton Rose planning work

Clifford Chance and Nabarro Nathanson have been called in to give a second opinion on Norton Rose's planning work on Spitalfields Market.

Norton Rose failed to push a reserve application through for the commercial development after a small Cambridge firm forced Tower Hamlets Council to withdraw from a judicial review at the High Court (The Lawyer, 8 January). Since then, Nabarros' client Hammersons, which lets adjacent block 280 Bishopsgate, has acquired a two-thirds interest in the Spitalfields Development Group (SDG) for £18m. The remainder of the stake in SDG is still held by Balfour Beatty.

Simon Stait at Nabarros confirms that SDG has requested a review of the planning application. He says: “SDG asked us to get involved with the planning process because Hammersons is our client and because we bring a fresh eye to the planning application.”

The proposed development is a joint venture between the City of London Corporation, which owns the freehold interest, and SDG, which has a 32 per cent interest in the proposed development. Clifford Chance is the main law firm for the City of London Corporation.

Sources close to Clifford Chance say that the firm has been invited to send a capability statement and that there is a strong possibility that the firm will take over the planning work.

SDG chief executive Mike Bear says: “As far as prudence for this large scheme is concerned, each of the individual parties is looking to satisfy their own requirements. Norton Rose remain responsible for the planning, but the shareholders of each party have put forward their own best teams.”

Lateral hire Jonathan Solomon left Norton Rose to join Clifford Chance in September last year, bringing the majority of the commercial and property work attached to the development with him, but the planning side was left with Norton Rose.