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Real Estate

With a recently strong UK real estate market struggling to keep up with demand, competition for prime assets is higher than ever. In addition to availability, landlords, developers, asset managers, investors and occupiers face a range of challenges and opportunities in the current climate. These include the increasing globalisation of the real estate investment market, the growing demand for а high quality built environment with continued focus on achieving sustainability, and the increased use of technology and rising cyber security risks.

With one of the largest real estate teams in the UK, we have the resource and expertise our clients need to respond to this fast-paced market. Our lawyers provide decisive, pragmatic solutions allowing clients to react quickly to seize opportunities. With dedicated planning, finance, tax, construction and dispute specialists as part of the group, we are able to ensure that our clients are realising the most value possible from their assets.

We are delighted to have maintained a Tier 1 ranking for Real Estate categories in the recently published Chambers and Legal 500 UK 2023 directories.

We are one of the few City-based firms able to offer clients a truly full UK-wide service with offices in London, Aberdeen, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Reading, Liverpool and Sheffield.

In addition to our UK offering, the CMS Real Estate Sector practice is the largest real estate specialist team in Europe and one of the biggest worldwide, providing full-service legal assistance in all real estate matters. We have over 800 lawyers, spanning across 73 offices worldwide, the CMS Real Estate Practice is one of the largest specialist teams worldwide.

We are very proud to be working with some of the most dynamic real estate businesses around at the moment. Our clients range from large international and private investors to developers, universities, utility providers and occupiers.

"The team is one of the best teams that I ever collaborated with. The CMS real estate team is always available, deals with the toughest deadlines and delivers the best quality."

Legal 500, 2023

"With a real depth of experience and an impressive breadth of resources - CMS is hands down one of the strongest firms in the global real estate industry."

Legal 500, 2018

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Construction
Whether you are an employer/owner, contractor, funder/investor or you are buying an interest in a project that is under construction or has recently b
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Data Centres
A proper understanding of real estate and landlord and tenant issues is integral to any data centres business. Our market-leading real estate team has
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Planning
We are one of the largest planning teams in the UK with over 30 specialist lawyers. We are motivated by a passion to help to create exceptional places
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PropTech
The real estate industry is currently going through an unprecedented phase of digital transformation against the backdrop of ‘the fourth industr
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Real Estate
With a recently strong UK real estate market struggling to keep up with demand, competition for prime assets is higher than ever. In addition to avail
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Real Estate & Planning Disputes
As a developer, landlord, contractor or occupier, when a real estate project or transaction becomes contentious, it is essential that matters be dealt
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Real Estate Development
Competition for sites, access to funding, changing legislation, achieving planning consent, rights to light issues and community infrastructure levy a
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Real Estate Energy
We are one of the few London-headquartered real estate groups to have a dedicated real estate energy team. With a market-leading energy practice, we p
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Real Estate Finance
The real estate finance market has undergone significant change in recent years, with increased regulation, the entrance of more categories of lenders
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Real Estate Investment
With demand for prime assets higher than ever, real estate investment is becoming an increasingly global market. Being able to respond quickly to inve
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Real Estate Occupiers
As an occupier in today’s market, there are a number of key issues to consider. These include establishing strategies for disposal of surplus pr
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Real Estate PRS
Residential property in the UK has never seemed a more attractive investment. With a shortage of quality rental properties available and development s
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Residential Real Estate
CMS’ Residential Real Estate practice has extensive experience and offers pro-active and tailored advice, handling a broad range of work for com
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Student Accommodation
The purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) sector is one that has grown exponentially over the previous decade both domestically and international
10/11/2023
Driving sustainability in real estate and construction
Contributing to the fight against climate change and creating social value are now priorities for the real estate and construction sectors.   The long-term nature of the built environment means that resilience and sustainability should be considered at every stage if buildings are to be environmentally and socially responsible. This brings both opportunities and challenges for the businesses that create, own or maintain it. They must consider the evolving technical, regulatory and market landscape, to ensure that their investments are future-proofed commercially, as well as environmentally and socially. This section of Bandwidth looks at some of the ESG issues that confront developers and property owners, and how they can incorporate practical solutions into their businesses.
13/12/2023
MEES - are the regulations working?
MEES is a flagship policy to help the UK meet its net zero targets. MEES returns over 50million hits on Google, so it is undoubtedly a widely discussed piece of legislation that should play a major role in reducing the carbon footprint of the non-domestic property stock in the UK. But is there sufficient bite to these regulations? 
Law-Now: Real Estate & Construction
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07/11/2024
Key real estate issues to consider with data centres
The aim of this session is to provide an overview of datacentres and how they operate in a real estate context, but also to go more in depth into a couple of sticky points, such as the meaning of reliability in the datacentre context and to then provide individuals with ample opportunity to ask any questions they may have.
15/10/2024
Impact of changes to registration of overseas entities and other Companies...
This programme of webinars provides a short and incisive review of some key topics relating to real estate, planning and construction in the United Kingdom.  
04/09/2024
What’s new with the Electronic Communications Code?
This programme of webinars provides a short and incisive review of some key topics relating to real estate, planning and construction in the United Kingdom.  
12/07/2024
Levelling the playing field ?
Construction policy note introduces Graduated Pricing Mechanism as an alternative method of determining price score in tender eval­u­ations.Guid­ance setting out a new method of determining the price score...
12/07/2024
Real estate finance law in the United Kingdom
A. Mortgages 1. Can security be granted to a foreign lender? Yes. Security can be granted to a foreign lender. 2. Can lenders take a mortgage over land and buildings on the land? Yes. Lenders can take...
10/07/2024
Supreme Court overrules Parkwood: collateral warranties are not construction...
In a decision issued yesterday, the Supreme Court has found that collateral warranties and other contracts which are merely derivative or reflective of primary building contracts do not fall within the...
05/07/2024
What we can expect from Labour in relation to Planning policies
Following Labour's victory in yesterday's general election, significant changes are on the horizon for the UK's planning system, housing sector, energy landscape, and infrastructure development. We take...
05/07/2024
Writing requirements for variation claims under the JCT
A TCC decision earlier this year appears to be the first case to consider whether the need for a written instruction or CVI is a condition precedent to a claim for additional payment in relation to varied...
05/07/2024
The First 100 Days: Planning, Infrastructure and Energy Transition
Introduction As the dust settles on the 2024 Election result, and the new government takes shape, CMS and Deloitte reflect on the opportunity that the first 100 days of the new administration can offer the world of planning, infrastructure and energy transition. The new administration is committed to accelerating net zero. The Labour Party’s manifesto and Clean Energy Plan[1] contained a pledge to double onshore wind, triple solar power, and quadruple offshore wind by 2030 together with the introduction of a carbon border adjustment mechanism to prevent emissions being displaced elsewhere. Planning reform and the establishment of GB Energy will be key to delivering this. Indeed Labour have put setting up GB Energy as one of their "first steps"[2] and the Kings Speech on the 17th July could provide the platform to see early action on both. There are near term levers that can be used to establish a strong baseline in which to deliver, not only on manifesto promises, but to also realise the much need momentum to support UK Plc in meeting its economic and environmental potential. These are:  Skills and Training FundingProvision of toolsAdditional In­fra­struc­ture­Bey­ond the Manifesto - the technical realities 1. Skills and Training Funding Low carbon energy generation and the delivery of large scale infrastructure are key to realising the energy transition and success of UK Plc in achieving net zero targets. However, there is a planning and environmental resource gap to be plugged for these the energy transition to be delivered at the pace needed. Immediate funding to invest in skills and training and the planning process as a whole is required, this could take the form of:  The expansion of investment in STEM subjects at school to raise greater awareness of the planning profession and its important role in the delivery of infrastructure, environment and energy transition; To immediate investment in the professionals working in the sector today. The latter will have the very real effect of unlocking Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) and statutory consultee consultees to provide the ability to respond to applications in a timely manner Whilst the establishment of Great British Energy could be of great benefit, a portion of the £8.3billion invested in its set up could work alongside the proposed funding through UK Stamp Duty fund,  in funding planning officers and consultees to help unlock and expedite delivery. To this end, the introduction of the new tiered service by The Planning Inspectorate (comprising Basic, Standard and Enhanced services) in the determination of Development Consent Orders (DCOs) could be a model that is rolled out more widely across the planning system to achieve full cost recovery in this regard. The new administration should provide transparency as to how monies are being recycled into the quality inspectors, EIA officers and where this could be adopted at a re­gion­al/dis­trict geography level. This can be achieved through additional funding mechanisms, such as the Innovation and Capacity Fund, which should continue to provide assistance to local authorities to ensure that the new pre-application processes are successfully im­ple­men­ted. The previous Government’s community benefit proposals for transmission infrastructure is ongoing. This is an area where the new administration could be bold. The recent Community Benefits for Electricity Transmission Network Infrastructure – Social Research paper identified that long-term job creation is one factor which could help drive acceptability for projects. Given the acknowledged skills gap, clearer guidance on a broader community benefit scheme (beyond just transmission projects) may help in driving positive change and funding. Indeed Labour’s manifesto proposed to “reward clean energy developers with a British Jobs Bonus, allocating up to £500 million per year from 2026, to incentivise firms who offer good jobs, terms and conditions and build their manufacturing supply chains in our industrial heartlands, coastal areas, and energy com­munit­ies”Sim­il­arly, the s106 mechanism for planning applications could be expanded to include support and training of both communities and determining authorities in the planning system. This could have demonstrable value on the autonomy of local communities to engage and understand the planning process, beyond developer consultation rounds. Longer term, an indirect financial benefit for developers can be achieved through extending the proposed restrictions on landowners claiming hope value[3]. Politically, this should be straightforward as the previous administration laid the ground-work through the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023. 2. Provision of tools After skills and training, availability and access to the correct tools for stakeholders (developers, consenting authorities, statutory consultees) to use is fundamental to success. In the first 100 days, beyond express planning reform, direction setting can also very clearly be given through informed written ministerial statements of intent. In the solar space, a new written ministerial statement (or at least the withdrawal of the 2015 and April 2024 written ministerial statements) would be a short-term win to provide confidence. In the onshore wind space, a written ministerial statement and an update to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (and associated update to the National Planning Policy Guidance - NPPG) will provide confidence that long-promised planning support will be delivered. In the hydrogen and electricity space, moving quickly to put National Electricity System Operator (NESO) in place and progress the Strategic Spatial Energy Plan (SSEP) will provide more strategic planning support as will including policy in the NPPF and NPPG. What is critical is that short term gains do not frustrate long-term objectives and that commitments to generation capacity do not prejudice transmission networks. The SSEP should be comprehensive and identify what needs to be built and where connections need to be made. The SSEP should also be recognised in the NPSs, NPPF and NPPG to give it clear planning policy status too. Through an infrastructure and energy transition lens, and specifically the adoption of ‘not so new tech’, the absence of explicit policy and guidance on hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) has meant that these sectors have not been able to deliver the promise and pace that was anticipated. It is acknowledged that the UK needs a diverse energy mix and to be able to adopt these technologies and mix at scale requires concrete policy (including clarity on funding) to ensure investment and consenting decisions can be made with confidence. Ministerial statements that commit to the adoption of hydrogen and CCUS National Policy Statements (NPS), with a very clear timeline for adoption, would benefit increased confidence and investment. 3. Additional Infrastructure: Datacentres and Housing Data centres and housing also rely on private investment and face delivery challenges. There has been reference throughout the pre-election period to data centres being introduced to the NSIP regime with the Labour manifesto expressly citing the need to “remove barriers to new datacentres”. Whilst there is discussion to be had on planning act thresholds, extending the potential scope of section 35 and allowing projects to seek a direction may be beneficial, particularly for projects that may require private wire electricity connections and/or the co-location of electricity generation and which may require land assembly. The prospect of housing being introduced to the NSIP regime has also been raised. This would require legislative change, and the Kings Speech on the 17th July could provide an early immediate opportunity. Whilst this would not be appropriate for all housing schemes it would be a welcome longer-term measure to deliver new towns. The approach to policy needs to be carefully considered given that the policy matrix for NSIP development is materially different. In order to put NSIP housing development on a stronger footing, adopting an NPS and triggering the decision-making framework via section 104 of the Planning Act 2008 would be appropriate. This could allow for a concept, similar to critical national priority infrastructure in the energy NPSs, whereby the need for the housing development is determined to meet all policy tests such as very special circumstances in the green belt (provided that the mitigation hierarchy has been followed and subject to the same carve out for HRA development). A site-specific housing NPS, similar to the nuclear NPS, may be most appropriate if housing were included as a class of NSIP.A short-term step to aid with delivery for both data centres and housing would be amendments to the NPPF which strengthen the presumption in favour of sustainable development made. This approach could see the presumption in favour of development (or certain forms of development) enhanced with the factors that disapply the presumption reduced. Historically, appeal decisions have seen different conclusions reached on the weight applied to factors. Clearer policy guidance on the approach to weight would also be beneficial, and this could follow a similar approach to the critical national priority concept. This would then mitigate a lot of the arguments regarding weight and benefits that play out in large scale residential appeals. Another short term step the new administration could take to expedite delivery would be to use existing planning tools such as special development orders and local development orders – both under-used, and can be implemented relatively quickly. While these will not be appropriate for all schemes, and may need alignment with compulsory purchase processes, they could. This could be coupled with longer term legislative change to deliver the steps above. 4. Beyond the manifesto – the technical realities Beyond the manifesto, there are a number of steps which the Government could take to expedite the planning process. Expressly capturing more development in the DCO regime (such as hydrogen production or onshore wind) may not be appropriate and a better approach may be extending the remit of section 35 directions (allowing projects to opt-in to the regime). The 50MW threshold for electricity generation has led to solar schemes having their design capped at 49.9MW to avoid the NSIP regime, and since energy storage was removed from the DCO regime there has been a growth in large scale energy storage schemes being consented. Project promoters often debate the most appropriate consenting regime for the delivery of projects, and allowing an “opt-out” from the Planning Act 2008 regime could help. This would be similar to the mechanism introduced through section 24 of the Infrastructure (Wales) Act 2024 in respect of the newly introduced Infrastructure Consent Order regime in Wales. More broadly, the recent Supreme Court decision in Finch (in respect of EIA) and Court of Appeal decision in Fry (in respect of HRA) both provide potential challenges to the delivery of major projects across numerous sectors. Legislative change has long been mooted in respect of HRA matters, with a particular focus on nutrient neutrality and housing, and this should be considered to provide certainty to all industries. These are areas with a substantive body of case law and where guidance and policy updates alone may be insufficient. Implementing any recommendations which flow from the Banner Review[4], to expedite the judicial review process (particularly in the Higher Courts) and consider the threshold for challenges, should be prioritised. Changes to Civil Procedural Rules and the implementation of judicial guidance can be delivered quickly, but must respect the rule of law. The benefit in these changes will be reducing the post-consent time that is often lost for major infrastructure projects. The first 100 days of any new administration provide a real opportunity to be capitalised and set the scene for what’s to come in the worlds of planning, infrastructure and energy transition. The benefit of implementing some or all of the thoughts above would set a very clear signal of the administration intent and delivery of promises made.
01/07/2024
Countdown to UKCA compliance: changes in construction product marking
It is time to prepare for changes in construction products, as there is only one year remaining until CE marking (which stands for Conformité Européenne) will no longer be recognised as the compliance...
28/06/2024
Planning in Politics – Manifesto Summary (2024 General Election)
What might the General Election mean for planning policy and the built and natural environment?  With less than one week to go until we all head to the polls, we have summarised the key policies and...
24/06/2024
Court of Appeal guidance on allocations under the Building Safety Fund
A recent Court of Appeal decision provides valuable commentary on the correct approach to the making of allocations under the Building Safety Fund (the “BSF”) for the funding of fire-safety remedial...