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Portrait of Gemma Bell


Gemma is a partner and leads the housing corporate and governance team. Working primarily out of the Birmingham office, she advises a range of clients nationally including housing associations, local authorities, charities and social enterprises.

With significant experience of delivering a wide range of guidance on regulatory and charity law issues, Gemma is a ‘go to’ person for governance advice in the social housing sector. She was a contributor to the National Housing Federation’s latest version of the Model Rules, which is the sector’s most widely used constitutional document.

Gemma specialises in advising housing associations on large and frequently innovative corporate projects including mergers and acquisitions, group consolidations, joint ventures, de-mergers and stock transfers. She provides governance and strategic advice for social enterprises, housing associations, ALMOs, local authorities and charities and regularly delivers governance training to third sector organisations. With significant experience in incorporating a variety of legal structures, she acts on charitable conversions and on establishing and collapsing group structures.

Recognised as a leader in her field in the latest edition of Chambers UK, Gemma is praised for her ‘strong governance experience and expert handling of corporate transactions’ as well as her ‘great reputation in the sector’. She joined Penningtons Manches Cooper in 2020 from another leading law firm in the UK housing sector.

Recent work highlights

  • Advising a North West based housing association on entering into a voluntary undertaking with the Regulator of Social Housing and the subsequent consolidation of its group structure, including converting a member housing association into an exempt community benefit society.
  • Acting as the joint legal adviser on several housing association mergers, including providing guidance on issues such as competition law, tenant consultation and the restructuring of commercial subsidiaries.
  • Advising a North West based housing association on joining a large housing association group, including leading on legal due diligence.
  • Acting on the set-up of the first charitable non-registered housing association to receive large scale stock from a private registered provider.
  • Advising a large North East housing association on exiting a joint venture arrangement in order to establish another joint venture with a commercial developer to expand several mixed tenure sites.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP