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Lodders

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Law firm Lodders is to focus its charity push on local Warwickshire projects.

Via Heart of England Community Foundation, the Stratford-upon-Avon solicitors are to throw their fund-raising effort behind The Buzz Arts and Community Centre and Support Sport Ltd.

Based in the town’s Henley Street, and catering for the needs of a range of individuals and groups, Buzz provides a venue for leisure activities, support bodies, training, charity events and conferences.

The complex is for the public generally but in particular those who are young, old, infirm or disabled, in financial hardship or living in trying social or economic circumstances.

Lodders will fund a part time chef to support the centre’s Go Enjoy Project which aims to help those of limited mobility get into Stratford, meet others, get a bite to eat and enjoy some activities in an affordable setting.

Support Sport Ltd is a not-for-profit organisation enabling children and young people to benefit through sport and leadership activities.

The aim is to develop tomorrow’s community leaders, boosting ambitions, goals and confidence.

Lodders will back workshops for children aged 9, 10 and 11 at five different primary schools across Warwickshire, targeting those in areas of either high deprivation or rural isolation.

Senior partner David Lodder, head of the firm’s charity committee, said: “Every year we try to do our bit for charity.

“These are two great local causes, where hopefully we can help to make a difference.”

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The news that more people are having to pay Inheritance Tax (IHT) on death has prompted Lodders Solicitors to highlight the ways of reducing the potential liability.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that in the year to April 2013 IHT receipts increased by eight per cent to £3.1 billion, but the figure has soared by 30 per cent during the past three years.

Lodders partner Eamonn Daly, a chartered tax adviser, said: “This is down to a number of factors, including the recovery in housing prices, household savings and equities recovering but also the freeze in the IHT threshold, which has been fixed at £325,000 since April 2009 has dragged more estates into the IHT net.

“The simplest way of planning to avoid IHT is to give cash/assets away more than seven years prior to death. However clients are often keen to keep control of the sums gifted, fearful of their intended beneficiaries spending the hard earned wealth frivolously or losing it in the event of a bankruptcy or divorce.”

Mr Daly pointed out that for significant gifts of over £1 million the use of corporate structures such as Family Investment Companies (FICs) should be considered to help address these issues.

Individuals can subscribe cash or assets for shares in their own bespoke FIC and then make substantial gifts of some of the shares to beneficiaries without incurring an immediate IHT charge.

The founder of the FIC can retain significant control by the retention of voting shares.

“For smaller gifts, where an individual wishes to maintain some control, trusts are still the main lifetime IHT mitigation tool,” Mr Daly advised.

“Where the total of assets to be gifted does not exceed the individual’s IHT threshold of £325,000 – or £650,000 for a couple – trusts are usually the most flexible solution,” he said “above these figures lifetime IHT is payable on assets transferred to most trusts at 20 per cent.”

He stressed that whatever the level of cash and assets held over the £325,000 or £650,000 joint threshold, professional advice could help to significantly decrease the IHT burden and protect family wealth.

Lodders Solicitors has offices in Cheltenham, Stratford-upon-Avon and Henley-in-Arden.

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One of the Midlands major annual property conferences was held this year at Henley-in-Arden Golf Club where Lodders Solicitors hosted over 100 clients and fellow professionals.

The keynote speaker this year was Tony Green, chief executive of Birmingham-based Horton Estates, the family-owned property investment and development company. He was joined at the rostrum by fellow speaker Simon Horan of Savills in Birmingham, and Michael Campbell and Michael Orlik, members of the highways and rights of way team within Lodders’ real estate department, rounded the conference off with some legal insights into the problems inherent in varying Section l06 agreements and issues concerning rights of way and village greens.

Guests were welcomed by Lodders chairman George Campion who commented that while a north-south divide was readily discernible with the recovery more rooted in the south, he was encouraged by signs of a pick up in the Midlands property market.

Picture by John James.

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Over 100 invited guests heard Lodders senior partner David Lodder announce the dawn of a new era in legal services in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds.

The law firm, which has served its local communities from its Stratford-upon-Avon and Henley-in-Arden offices for over 225 years, has opened a major office in Cheltenham.

Mr Lodder said the launch was based on the firm’s core services – private client, agricultural and property. The move is being spearheaded by partners Robin Beckley, Paul Mourton and Penny Gladman, all of whom have a long established track record in the area. The reception was held at the Mercure Cheltenham Queens Hotel, Cheltenham, only yards from Lodders’ new offices at 25 Imperial Square.

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A Stratford lawyer is celebrating a career success after becoming a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the industry body which focuses on professional development for those specialising in family inheritance and succession planning.

For Laura Eaves, an associate with Lodders Solicitors, obtaining the Society’s diploma is the culmination of four exams and two years of study.

“I’m very pleased,” she said. “It was hard work but the qualification is both important and well recognised.

“I find this area of the law particularly rewarding because you tend to be helping people often at one of the most difficult times of their lives.”

Ms Eaves joined Lodders as a trainee in 2006 and qualified in 2008.

A member of the Stratford-upon-Avon litigation team within the private client department, her role involves contentious trusts, disputed estates and inheritance claims as well as general wills and probate.

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Law firm Lodders has celebrated its arrival in Cheltenham with a major client win.

It will now be advising Huntsmans Quarries based at Naunton near Stow-on the Wold, a privately owned 77-year-old business that employs over 60 local people and owns approximately 400 acres of land

With the business looking to expand as the construction market picks up, it has turned to Lodders for all its legal needs but particularly those relating to property acquisition.

Paul Mourton, a partner in the Cheltenham office which the Stratford-upon-Avon headquartered firm opened on Monday, September 30, said Huntsmans Quarries was looking to expand and diversify.

“We have already advised them on two acquisitions,” he commented.

“The first involves purchasing extra land in order to extend the existing quarry at Naunton while the second is for a new depot near Evesham.”

Today Huntsmans principally produces aggregates and agricultural lime but also natural building stone, walling and roofing. Some of the aggregates are converted into concrete products such as readymixed concrete and their Atlas Walling and Fieldstone Conservation Roofing.

Huntsmans also operate a construction and demolition waste facility for the North Cotswolds whereby waste from local construction projects can be reprocessed for use as aggregates.

Essentially they serve a local market with 90 per cent of products going within 25 miles and provide a one stop shop for the local and not so local contractors.

Huntsmans Quarries managing director David Glenn said: “Following the financial crash and the UK’s plunge into recession, output reduced by over 50 per cent. “Fortunately, the industry has at long last turned the corner and local construction and farming seem to be on the up.

“We are now investing in the future and are pleased to be working with Lodders who have taken the time to understand our business and that gives me confidence we are valued and not just a number.”

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The Warwickshire and Gloucestershire firm is rated in the top tier for agricultural and private client work, and this year the real estate team is rated in the second tier of legal firms outside of Birmingham.

Legal 500, the trade “bible” for lawyers, comments that Lodders “has a sizeable and highly knowledgeable team. It recently assisted in the resolution of a potential family dispute over the winding-up of an estate and the partition of a farm between farming and non-farming beneficiaries.

The guide describes senior partner David Lodder as ‘exceptional’ and partner Alex Robinson as “very efficient”

In the area of personal tax, trusts and probate, Lodders has a “very strong offering”. It focuses on high net worth individuals with multiple business interests, and acts for a number of Sunday Times Rich List clients.

Partners Martin Green and Stephen Brignull are described as ‘technically very strong and pragmatic”, and the guide notes that partner Helen Rowett joined the team, based in the Henley-in-Arden office, this year from Irwin Mitchell in Birmingham.

Commenting on the firm’s growing real estate work, Legal 500 notes that Lodders’ “driven” team is “very responsive” and is appreciated for its “partner-led approach”. Team head Nick East is “very experienced”, and Mark Lee “thrives on getting the deal done”. The firm recently acted for IM Properties in its purchase of a retail warehouse for over £8 million.Lodders managing parter Rod Bird said: “Once again this is most welcome recognition of the firm’s strengths and we are particularly pleased that our growing real estate team is getting the attention it deserves.“As a firm, we are well positioned to advise the Midlands and Cotswolds’ high net worth individuals on a business, private, property and agricultural basis and focus on these key areas is central to our growth plans.

”Lodders opened a new office in Cheltenham on Monday, September 30. Partners Paul Mourton, Robin Beckley and Penny Gladman are to continue the push into Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds which was started with the opening of an office in Cirencester in 2009 – which has now merged into the new office at 25 Imperial Square, Cheltenham.

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Real estate lawyers at Lodders Solicitors have given a guarded welcome to the Government’s empty property rate relief scheme for newly built commercial property which comes into effect on Tuesday, October 1.

Amy Bloomer, a trainee solicitor in Lodders real estate team, said: “The new exemptions cover properties that are completed after October 1 this year and before September 30, 2016, and those that are unoccupied for the first 18 months after their completion.

The temporary scheme states that empty non-domestic properties that currently qualify for a three month (retail property) or six month (industrial and warehouse property) rate-free period may benefit from a further 15 or 12 months of rate relief. The scheme is subject to state aid limits.

Miss Bloomer said: “If during the exemption there is a period of occupancy of the property of six weeks or less, the occupancy will be ignored and the business rates exemption will continue to run.

“If however, the property is let or occupied for more than six weeks during the exemption, the rates exemption will end at the start of the occupancy with a new exemption able to be claimed should the property become vacant again, if the property still satisfies the necessary criteria.”

The measure is intended as an aid to stimulate construction.

By reducing the risk of paying empty property rates on a newly built commercial property should the property not become fully occupied straight away should incentivise some commercial property projects to go ahead, helping to stimulate the construction industry.

Miss Bloomer said: “While this encouraging for those currently contemplating new commercial building construction it is disappointing as, at the same time, we are being told that there are no changes proposed to relief for empty buildings generally.

“This is a disappointment for landlords with empty properties and also those who are renovating property which is then not let or sold.”

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Lodders Solicitors is helping to breathe new life into central parts of Cheltenham and Gloucester.

Partner Penny Gladman has advised on a number of conversions of Grade II listed properties into residential.

The news comes on the back of a Government move in January 2013 that allowed several changes to permitted development rights.

Penny Gladman said: “The most significant of these was to allow a change of use from B1 commercial use, to C3 residential usage.

“Previously you needed to apply for planning permission for a change of use such as this.”

In Cheltenham, H&H Developments Ltd has taken on 24 Cambray Place, formerly council owned offices, and turned the property into four residential apartments which are now let.

In Gloucester, the company is currently converting the town’s former register office, Maitland House, 12 Spa Road, into nine apartments and two houses which are expected to go on sale in the autumn.

Penny Gladman said: “These projects show that we do not have to accept that some town centres are dying for want of demand.

“With imagination and innovation, many properties, unloved as commercial or office space, can be brought back to life, bringing people back into town centres to live and hence enhancing the local economy in turn.

“However, it it worth noting that planning and/or listed building consent may still be needed for conversion work.”

Lodders itself is making the move into Cheltenham, having taken 25 Imperial Square as a major new office location for the firm from which to serve clients in Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds.

The new office is to open on Monday, September 30, with locally based partners Robin Beckley, Paul Mourton and Penny Gladman leading the drive to enhance services to the area’s high net worth individuals, whether through their private client, real estate or commercial teams.

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Renowned private client, agriculture and real estate law firm Lodders Solicitors has announced plans to open a major operation in Cheltenham to service clients in Gloucestershire and the wider Cotswolds area.

Managing partner Rod Bird said the new office was opening in response to client demand as a significant proportion of Lodders’ turnover already comes from clients in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds.

The lead partners opening the new office in Imperial Square, Cheltenham, are Robin Beckley and Paul Mourton, both of whom have a long pedigree in Cheltenham and live in the area.

Robin Beckley joined Lodders in May 2012 after spending 27 years with Cheltenham law firm Rickerbys – 24 as a partner.

Paul Mourton’s family has a long business association with Cheltenham, and he joined Lodders in 2008 from Charles Russell, having initially completed his training with Rickerbys.

They will be joined by fellow partner Penny Gladman and her assistant Holly Kennett both from Lodders’ Cirencester office, which will be merged into the new Cheltenham office.

The office will open in the autumn, initially with eight staff, but this figure is likely to rise before the formal opening.

Managing partner Rod Bird said the intention was to build on the success of the firm’s offices in Stratford-upon-Avon and Henley-in-Arden in serving the region’s high net worth individuals, whether through their private client,real estate or commercial teams.

“By teaming up Robin Beckley, Paul Mourton and Penny Gladman to open our Cheltenham office, we are making a clear statement of intent, and we anticipate this office will grow quickly as we look to build on what is already an established client base in and around Cheltenham.

“This is not so much a new office for them as much as a ‘coming home’.

“We are aware that there is a significant demand for a highly personal, private client centred offering in Cheltenham, and we note that a number of professional firms and financiers such as Coutts have chosen to base themselves in the town.

“Lodders has a tremendous track record in attracting and retaining clients and this makes us an extremely attractive proposition to lawyers looking to join a firm where they can advance their careers with a firm that values personal service.

“We expect to make further announcements on staffing in the near future,” he said.

The firm has chosen the Grade II listed Regency building at 25 Imperial Square to place the new operation at the very heart of Cheltenham. With almost 3,000 sq ft of office accommodation, it is designed to provide plenty of room for growth.

Tim Smith of John Ryde Commercial acted for the landlord of 25 Imperial Square.