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Freeths - Law firm
James Hart

James Hart


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"I have worked with James for nearly 20 years on numerous land purchases, contracts and disputes. The service I have received has always been of the highest standard and I look forward to working with him for many years to come."
(Regional Managing Director of a National Housebuilder)

James has nearly 20 years’ Real Estate experience and now specialises in the areas of residential development and public sector land. Clients value his pragmatism and commercial attitude to problem-solving, alongside his keen ability to identify and deal with key risks quickly and effectively.

James is listed as a Recommended lawyer in the Legal 500 (2019 Edition).

Legal Services

Residential Development

James’ residential development experience is extensive. It includes the full range of developments; from long-term joint venture partnerships and public sector building leases, to options, pre-emptions, planning promotion agreements and traditional conditional and unconditional purchases. James acts for a range of clients in the sector, supported by Freeths’ large specialist residential development team. He also manages the firm’s relationship with a major national housebuilder.

Recent Work

  • Acting for a major national housebuilder on a joint-venture agreement for development of 350 houses on the outskirts of Warwick.
  • Acting for private landowners in the phased disposal of agricultural land in Retford, Nottinghamshire to a housing developer for up to 250 houses. This includes the securing of a ransom position and servicing rights to potential further development land.
  • Acting for a local authority in the procurement of a developer consortium for the development of a 600-unit residential site in the Home Counties.
  • Advising a housing association client in the acquisition and development under building lease of 380 mixed-tenure dwellings in the East Midlands.

Public Sector Property

James leads the Freeths team specialising in public sector property and advises local authorities throughout the country on property projects. The team covers the full range of public sector property advice, while James himself specialises in development projects, joint ventures and large-scale acquisitions and disposals.

Recent Work

  • Advising several local authorities on asset disposal programmes. This recently includes an East Midlands authority on the complex disposal of surplus land for residential development subject to overage and charge-back provisions, a Greater London authority on disposals as part of an area-wide Council housing regeneration scheme, and a North West authority on a series of development agreements/building leases for residential schemes along the Bridgewater Canal corridor.
  • Advising Rushcliffe Borough Council on the conversion of listed former Council offices into a high-quality apartment hotel and registry office complex. There were interlinked conditional agreements for the grant of leases on completion of development to the hotel operator and County Council.
  • Acting for Milton Keynes Council in the acquisition of over 1500 parcels of land from the Homes and Communities Agency for in excess £30 million.
  • Advising the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull on a development agreement/agreement for lease and compulsory purchase/indemnity agreement with LendLease Retail Partnership for the £70 million extension to the Touchwood Shopping Centre.

Real Estate

Recent Work

  • Advising Bellway Homes Limited in relation to the ground-breaking partnering arrangement with Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, InPartnership Limited and Whitefriars Housing Group for carrying out the major 15 year, £1.8 billion regeneration of Council estates in North Solihull.
  • Acting for Milton Keynes Development Partnership in a wide range of residential and commercial development schemes. These were secured by way of development agreement and building lease within the borough of Milton Keynes. Schemes included education and health sites, residential developments, industrial schemes and town-centre mixed use developments.
  • Advising Telford & Wrekin Council in connection with the disposal of land to a subsidiary of Magna International. This involved the construction of a new 225,000 sq ft plant for manufacture of components for Jaguar Land Rover. James co-ordinated Freeths’ team which advised upon the land disposal structure, property matters, State aid, and creation of land options – either for future expansion by the occupier or speculative development by the local authority.
  • Advising Halton Borough Council on development of Council-owned land as a major new rail-connected train manufacturing and maintenance plant for Alstom Transport UK Limited. This will be the UK’s third train production plant when fully completed. The development incorporates multi-million pound infrastructure provision for use by the new plant and the Council’s retained estate, within a complex State aid framework. The development faced difficult technical and environmental constraints, in addition to the requirement for creation of a new connection to the rail network.



To contact James or for more information…

Call: 0845 274 6811
Or email: Send an email



“I have worked with James for nearly 20 years on numerous land purchases, contracts and disputes. The service I have received has always been of the highest standard and I look forward to working with him for many years to come.”

(Regional Managing Director)

“I have found James to be highly professional and responsive in our work with him. He and his team have been timely in protecting the interests of the organisation, whilst assisting in maximising outcomes for local taxpayers.”

(Local Authority Chief Executive)

“James’ team of lawyers worked seamlessly with the Council’s in-house staff and their other external advisers, including myself, engaged fully in the detail of the transaction, and took the time to understand what the Council aimed to achieve out of the disposal.”

(Property Adviser, Midlands District Council)

“The firm is able to provide a high quality and comprehensive service with the capacity to call in professionals from other internal departments (tax, construction, procurement etc.) as necessary.”

(Senior Solicitor at a Greater Nottingham Borough Council)

“James consistently delivers an excellent legal service across a diverse portfolio of land acquisition agreements associated with residential developments. His knowledgeable and thorough approach is recognised and valued by all our team members.”

(Regional Development Director)

“I have been working with James now for a number of years and we have completed on the purchase of six development sites. James has been able to gain a quick understanding of our requirements and his thorough manner and good communication skills have meant that the deals, whilst quite complex, have moved forward to a successful conclusion.”

(Regional Land Director of a National Housebuilder)

Client service

‘Doing the right thing’ is at the heart of Freeths. Find out more about our excellent client service and the strong set of values that guide the way we work.

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Freeths are a leading national law firm with 13 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?

Contact: 03301 001 014

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