Property people: Lomond Group; Barton Willmore; Avant Homes; and more

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The Lomond Group has strengthened its senior leadership team as it accelerates its growth strategy across the UK with the appointment of three new directors.

Lucy Jones has joined as chief operating officer, Kirsty Franks has taken up the role of group marketing director, and Clare Wakeford has become group human resources director.

All three are newly-created Board roles at the Leeds-headquartered group, whose fast-expanding network of lettings and sales agents includes the High Street Yorkshire and Humber brand of Linley & Simpson.

It also encompasses Thornley Groves, John Shepherd, Brand Vaughan and Michael Jones & Company in England, plus Stonehouse and Braemore in Scotland.

Group chief executive, Stuart Pender, said: “All three directors have a proven track record for success in their respective fields and we are delighted to welcome them to team Lomond.

“They join at a pivotal time for the group as we step up our plans to grow at scale and at speed in both existing and new regions across the UK.

“To secure leaders of Lucy’s, Kirsty’s and Clare’s calibre, with their collective experience, is a major step forward for us as well as a clear signal of our ambitions. We look forward to them contributing to our future success.”

Jones brings to her COO role over 20 years’ experience in the residential property sector, most recently as managing director of online agency, Rentify.

She is a former equity partner at Knight Frank where she set up the Investment Lettings Department as well as being head of lettings operations before being appointed as head of lettings.

Previous to this, she held various roles with LSL Property Services, most latterly as operations director.

Franks joins from Bayfields Opticians, where she was marketing and communications director leading a central marketing team which supported the business through a period of significant organic and acquisitive growth.

She brings extensive knowledge and experience in both B2B and B2C marketing across a diverse range of sectors including in retail, healthcare, financial services, IT, and not-for-profit.

In her new role, she is responsible for brand, marketing, and all areas of internal and external communications for the Group.

Wakeford, who leads the HR strategy for the group, adds more than two decades’ experience of People and Talent Management across a number of business sectors.

This includes senior HR positions across financial services, insurance, retail and private medical businesses, including mergers, acquisition and change management.

She joins from the Bravo Group, where she was group HR director, building and leading its people strategy and supporting the company’s rapid growth in the UK insurance broking market through regional acquisitions. Bravo Group was successfully acquired by the Ardonagh Group in 2021.


Planning and design consultancy, Barton Willmore, has appointed Stuart Natkus as partner.

In his former role as planning director, Natkus has delivered many high profile planning projects across the North East and Yorkshire, including the regeneration of the former Tetley Brewery site in Leeds, the growth of Harrogate Spring Water and Maltkiln Village.

He has helped to deliver thousands of new homes and significant commercial developments across the regions.

Natkus, who has worked for Barton Willmore for more than ten years, said: “This is a really exciting time to be a planner in the North East and Yorkshire. With so many challenges and opportunities for developers, our expertise is invaluable.

“I’m really proud to have played a part in the regeneration and growth of our regions in my career so far and, I’m looking forward to continuing that role as partner, with my brilliant Barton Willmore colleagues.

“The consultancy is on a very strong footing for growth, with market-leading in-house knowledge, a varied client base and a healthy pipeline of projects.”

He joins other partners across Barton Willmore’s business, which was established in 1936 and has since grown to become the UK’s largest planning and design consultancy.

That includes existing partner James Hall, who works across the North East and Yorkshire regions.

Hall said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Stuart joins me as partner. His passion, enthusiasm and insight are driving forces of Barton Willmore and have helped us deliver outstanding outcomes for clients time and time again.

“Stuart’s hard work and tenacity is an inspiration to all the team here.”

Natkus’s appointment is part of a wider round of promotions owing to Barton Willmore’s continued growth. Four other new partners include: Greg Dickson, Colin Lavety, Barry Williams, and Lucy Wood.


Yorkshire housebuilder Avant Homes has strengthened its land team with the appointment of Ben Smith as land director for the region.

With more than 20 years’ experience in the housebuilding industry, Smith started his career as a quantity surveyor in 1999 and previously worked at Avant Homes Yorkshire as a senior land manager and land director between 2011 and 2018.

As land director he will be responsible for guiding the land team to secure quality land acquisitions across the region.

His main focus will be to seek out land opportunities in the region to support Avant Homes’ ambitious development strategy to significantly grow its portfolio.

Smith said: “I’m very pleased to be returning to Avant Homes as the land director for the Yorkshire region.

“I will be bringing my knowledge of land in the region and experience in the housebuilding industry to support and contribute to the continued success and ambitious growth plans of the business.

“There is a great demand for much-needed, high-quality homes across Yorkshire and with the fantastic people in the team, and the Avant Homes product, I’m sure we can continue to deliver vital homes for local people in the region.”

Avant Homes Yorkshire managing director, Chris Coley, added: “With Ben’s vast experience of securing land opportunities in Yorkshire, it’s an exciting time for the region to be able to welcome him back to the land team.

“As the new land director for the region, Ben will be essential in driving new developments through the acquisition of land opportunities to push the Yorkshire operation towards further success.”


Regional law firm, Andrew Jackson Solicitors, says Claire Ramsden and Juliette Fisher have joined as partners, strengthening the firm’s client offering regionally and throughout the UK.

Both bring substantial property expertise and are key additions to the team.

Ramsden undertakes a mix of commercial property work for various clients, although she has particular experience of advising on the property aspects of agriculture and corporate projects, as well as acting for house builders of all sizes on the acquisition of development sites.

With over 20 years’ legal experience, Fisher joins Andrew Jackson from an international law firm and brings substantial commercial property expertise to her new role, particularly in the area of healthcare.

Partner Geoff Phillips, who recently became head of property at Andrew Jackson, said: “Our property team continues to experience a high level of demand for its services, so we are particularly delighted to welcome Claire and Juliette to the partnership.

“They have a strong track record in the delivery of timely, commercial advice to clients – something which is consistently recognised in our client feedback, so it’s important to us to keep building on the specialist services we can offer them.

“I am looking forward to working alongside commercial property partner, Paul Barker, and to building on his achievements, which include establishing one of the leading property teams in the region.”

Mark Pearson-Kendall, managing partner of Andrew Jackson, added: “We are delighted to welcome Claire and Juliette to the firm.

“It is clear that they share our drive and commitment to delivering the best possible service to our clients, and that they will be a great asset to our team.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Geoff on his new role as head of property.

“Geoff is a talented and dedicated lawyer and I am confident he will lead the department in ensuring it continues to provide the best possible levels of service to our clients.”