THE decision by a North-East law firm to form a dedicated team providing a fully integrated legal and planning service to clients has paid off as the firm looks to take the facility into its next stage of development.

Ward Hadaway's planning and development team was officially launched in the summer of 1999 and was the first of its kind in the North- East.

Plans to expand the team, which now incorporates nine partners, ten lawyers and five town planners and support staff, continue, with ambitions to recruit a further two solicitors and town planners next year.

The team, which has seen tremendous growth in the past year, was strengthened when Keenlyside & Forster, specialists in commercial property work, joined Ward Hadaway earlier this year.

Ward Hadaway's new second building on Newcastle's Quayside will be complete in June 2001, allowing for further expansion of the firm and in particular the planning and development team.

Neil Robson, partner and head of the planning and development team, said: "The integration of the legal and planning disciplines together into one team has proved very effective and popular with our clients.

"We act for some of the major players in the development sector in the North-East and Scotland."