Property consultant Smiths Gore has announced that it has merged with Reading-based independent planning consultancy Hives Planning.
The move was intended to add planning to the surveying services on offer to Smiths Gore clients, while Hives clients will be able to draw on property consultancy advice.
The two firms will trade under the Smiths Gore brand, and the Reading office will be headed by Rebecca McAllister, previously Hives managing director, who will become a partner in Smiths Gore.
Robert Weldon, head of development at Smiths Gore, based in London, said: “This complementary merger boosts our national planning resource and we are looking forward to offering a complete planning and development service from both our London and Reading offices.
“An increased presence in the region will enable the new team to manage larger and more complex projects.”
McAllister said: “Whilst our existing clients will experience seamless continuity, the combined strengths of the practices will enable us to provide a wider range of expertise and support; this will be particularly important as the economy emerges from recession.”
The merger increases the numbers of chartered town planners within Smiths Gore from 13 to 17 across the country, in addition to a number of planning graduates.
A total of six of Smiths Gore’s 32 UK offices offices will now offer planning services, in Darlington, Edinburgh, Peterborough, Petworth, Reading and Taunton, McAllister said.
Within Reading team Rebecca McAllister will be supported by senior planners Mark Schmull and Jo Unsworth, who will both transfer from Hives, while Andrew Docherty remains as a consultant.
McAllister said: “The location of the office in Reading is ideally located to strengthen the presence of Smiths Gore in the South East.
“It allows for close working relationships with colleagues in existing offices such as London, Oxford, Winchester, Cirencester, and Marlborough which currently specialise in estate management, valuation and development, and architectural and building services.”
She said that the Reading team has particular experience in the promotion of strategic urban extensions, together with the preparation and submission of major and complex planning applications, and has worked on schemes across the country.
In addition, the firm has worked on planning appraisals, site feasibility studies, planning research and analysis, planning applications, environmental impact assessments, planning appeals and court cases.
In addition to its property development advice services, Smiths Gore is a manager of rural property, with clients including the owners of a number of large estates and historic country houses.
In February, the firm announced that it had merged with independent Northumberland chartered surveying firm Sale and Partners.