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    Crab Hill Developments case study

Supporting the development of one of the most significant strategic housing projects in Oxfordshire

Two farming families in Oxfordshire saw the potential of developing a housing scheme with over 1500 homes, a primary school, a neighbourhood centre and a relief road for Wantage town. In order to bring the land forward for development, the two farming families had to work closely together for a common cause.

Crab Hill Developments Limited was formed from various ownership structures created for the two farming families. An agreement was made with Lands Improvement Holdings Limited to deliver planning for the scheme.

It’s the second time we have used Charles Russell Speechlys. The first time was for 2,500 houses on an airfield in a consortium with other farmers. They did so well, and owe gained respect for them and appreciate them as a group, so we continued to use them. We felt they had the values that would suit us: reliability, integrity, honesty – they were easy to work with.”

Harford Smith


In 2017 the landowners, advised by Carter Jonas, identified St. Modwen Developments Limited as their development partner and we negotiated the Collaboration Development Management Agreement under which St Modwen will deliver the infrastructure with serviced phases sold to housebuilders.

Advising on this development scheme required extensive crossfirm collaboration.

Our Private Client and Tax, Trusts and Succession team established the initial ownership structure and our Corporate team also advised on the incorporation of Crab Hill Development. Our Planning and Construction teams continue to advise Crab Hill Developments Limited in relation to St Modwen’s delivery on the planning and construction.

Our Real Estate team has completed the sales of several phases and infrastructure land, with each sale requiring planning and construction input.

Over the last 10 years, we have built a trusted relationship with our client, Crab Hill Developments Limited, providing a one-stop-shop approach to accessing a range of services that fit their needs. We have guided them from the inception of the project through the milestones of pooling their interests, securing planning, and securing a development partner and we will continue to guide them through the remaining phase disposals until this long-term development project is delivered.

Crab Hill Developments Limited is owned by two farming families in Oxfordshire, the 'Smiths' and the 'Castles'. We have worked with the Smiths family on property and related matters since 2009.

Helping clients fulfil their goals is what matters to me. In this instance, pulling together complementary skills from across the Firm was integral to Crab Hill Developments to go from the initial plans to delivery and sales. Seeing a community like this grow is exciting and we look forward to supporting our client in their future projects.”

Ian Brothwood, Partner
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