Sue Bennett helps clients to deliver commercial development and investment projects. As a partner in our commercial development and investment team, she has built up a diverse commercial real estate experience, but primarily works to bring developments through their life cycle. New scheme development, or redevelopment of an existing real estate scheme, is a major undertaking.
Sue works closely alongside her developer clients, whether the site is industrial, retail or office-led, to effectively acquire sites, put in place funding, set up joint ventures and devise profit sharing arrangements, act on pre-lettings and even ultimate disposal. Her work also extends to institutional investors and private property companies, acting on real estate deals with a strategic aspect, whether that be an acquisition, disposal or re-gearing.
Sue also regularly calls upon her skills and experience from the development and investment arenas to act for corporate occupiers, guiding them through the processes of putting together bespoke arrangements and delivering often large-scale and strategic sites, such as distribution centres and offices.
Ultimately, Sue recognises that good, strong relationships are at the heart of a successful partnership between her clients and their lawyers. Her practice relies on not just being a lawyer and applying the law on the page, but working to understand her client's transactions and managing the legal process for them, being trusted to progress a deal so they can get on with spinning the other plates they have in play. With a strong understanding of the market and an ability to help her clients work through the commercial options and develop robust solutions, it comes as no surprise that many of Sue's clients return to her team again and again.
Property is something that you can really "see" and Sue likes being able to drive around and point out the developments that she's been involved with. To the point where she's been caught by clients referring to their developments as "ours"! She really does get attached to particular sites. Being able to walk out of the train station in Birmingham and look up at the Snowhill scheme and see what a great scheme it's been for Birmingham as a city, or watching the Longbridge scheme develop for the best part of eight years now and seeing it go from an unloved and all but abandoned place to what it is now – that's when she gets excited about bricks and mortar.
The people side, though, is what make this job work for Sue. She really enjoys the client relationships she has and loves that in those relationships she's seen as more than a lawyer who will just stick black and white on a page – her clients know that she'll work to recognise their issues (legal or not!), help manage those issues for them and be right alongside them through the process. She's known many of clients for a long time and finds it rewarding to be able to watch those clients grow over the years, just as from an internally facing perspective it is continually rewarding watching and growing her own team.
Working on St Modwen's Longbridge redevelopment project; which is already a 10 year + project. Sue has only worked on it for approximately seven years, but watching the development of an empty, derelict and part-demolished site to provide a significant new business, retail, leisure and residential space and re-establishing the community has been rewarding, if a little challenging at times.
For example, working with the client to enable Marks and Spencer access to commence their fit out of their new 150,000 square feet store and dealing with licence arrangements with the Foreign Office for the Pope's visit shows the wide spectrum of matters she had to address.
Continuing to work with the Schroder UK Real Estate Fund is an ongoing highlight, having acted for them since 2001. The chance to work for them arose from one project; initially instructed to work on the industrial portfolio she has since 2001 expanded the relationship and now works with the Fund on part of their retail portfolio and a number of alternative sub funds.
Sue's clients include St Modwen Properties PLC, Schroder UK Real Estate Fund, Ballymore Properties Limited, Poundland and Marks and Spencer as well as a number of small private development and investment entities.
Sue is a trustee of a small grant making charity which tries to make grants to local organisations where a grant (whether small or larger) can make a real difference.
Acting for St Modwen on various development projects, including the regeneration of the former Rover Plant at Longbridge. The 10 year plus project has had many unique aspects, with the site including retail, office, residential and recreational space as a new town centre (with proper heart and soul) is created.
Acting on various shopping centre schemes including the ongoing work at Southgate Bath and recent transactions including the disposal of The Kennet Centre Newbury and the acquisition of The MetQuarter Liverpool.
Being involved with the development, by Ballymore Properties, of all three buildings in Birmingham's Snowhill Scheme, from both a developer and investor perspective at different stages in the development.
Acting for Poundland on two strategic distribution centre deals.
On the investment side, acting extensively for Schroder UK Real Estate Fund since 2001, helping them to continue to grow and develop their portfolios.