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Northamptonshire Council given green light to spend office sale receipts

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CASH-strapped Northamptonshire County Council has been given permission by the government to spend the proceeds from the sale of its new office building.

The green light to use capital receipts for day to day spending, believed to be without precedent, was given yesterday by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, James Brokenshire, in response to recommendations from Commissioners sent in to stabilise the council.

Northamptonshire Council, which announced it had a £70 million shortfall, opened the brand new head office building at 1 Angel Square in Northampton in October last year.

Just four months later the stricken authority announced the £60 million sale and lease-back of the BDP-designed property.  It will now be able to use the income from that sale to help plug the gap in its spending.

The 22,000 sq metre development boasts a four storey atrium reception as well as a central courtyard with office space, informal meeting areas and touchdown areas grouped around it.

Cllr Matt Golby, leader of Northamptonshire Council, said: “I am delighted the commissioners have been successful in their request for a capital dispensation. This will enable us to use our own resources to tackle the £35m deficit from 2017-18 and replenish our reserves to put us on a sustainable financial position.”

Earlier this year, Northamptonshire County Council voted to scrap itself and two new unitary authorities will replace it from 2020.


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First Belfast managed workspace deal for BESpoke

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MANAGED workspace provider BESpoke has leased 20,000 sq ft of space in Belfast city centre.

BESpoke acquired the space inside the mixed-use Adelaide Exchange development in Belfast’s Adelaide Street for one of the big four international professional services firms.

On completion of a customised 14-week refurbishment programme the client will take a three-year licence.

It’s the eighth deal for the division of BE Offices since it launched in November last year.

Jonathan Weinbrenn, BESpoke’s managing director, said: “Our client was looking for a customised branded solution to solve its short-term needs for additional office space. We are able to take traditional office accommodation and transform it into space that reflects a client’s image, culture and brand.

“In the case of Belfast, we will take the refurbishment to CAT A standard and provide the client with a totally customised and designed space. All the client has to do is to move into the new offices on completion as BESpoke has done all the heavy lifting. We take the pain and strain out of acquiring short-term flexible additional accommodation.”

A new co-working business centre will also be created as part of the fit out and operated by BE’s Headspace division.

BESpoke was advised on the Belfast acquisition by Savills Ireland while Colliers acted for Straben Developments.

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New Bloomberg HQ wins the Sterling Prize

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BLOOMBERG’S new head office building in the City of London has been awarded the RIBA Sterling Prize.

The prestigious architecture award for the Foster+Partners-designed building comes as the property nears the first anniversary of its official opening.

Credited for being the world’s most sustainable office building, Bloomberg’s new European HQ property is also thought to be the largest stone building in the Square Mile since St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Queen Victoria Street site is made up of two large triangular buildings separated at ground level by the Bloomberg Arcade which is home to restaurants and bars. In total, the development created 102,200 square metres of office and retail space.

Royal Institute of British Architects judges described the Bloomberg headquarters as “a once-in-a-generation project which has pushed the boundaries of research and innovation in architecture.”

Responding to the award on Twitter, Mike Bloomberg commented: “Bloomberg’s European HQ was designed to push the boundaries of what an office building could be – setting new standards for openness & sustainability. It’s an honor to receive the RIBA Stirling Prize & we’re grateful to all – especially Foster+Partners.”

The award was the unanimous verdict of the RIBA judges – the other five shortlisted buildings were: Bushey Cemetery; Chadwick Hall; New Tate, St Ives; Storey’s Field Centre and Eddington Nursery; and the Sultin Nazrin Shah Centre.

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Liverpool’s Echo Building sold to Dubai company

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THE iconic former offices of the Liverpool Echo and Daily Post newspapers have been sold to an overseas investor.

Paradigm Property Consultants, the Development Managers of Reach PLC, acting jointly with Savills, have sold the forward funding and mixed-use redevelopment of the landmark Post & Echo Building in Liverpool city centre to Dubai-based investor, Select Group.

The redevelopment, which is due for completion in January 2020, will create a vibrant new mixed use destination totalling approximately 300,000 sq ft (27,871 sq m) in the heart of Liverpool’s commercial district with two floors of Grade A office space.

Once complete, the Echo Building in Old Hall Street will also have a new four star 207-room hotel, a restaurant, conference facilities, gym and rooftop Skybar, along with new retail and leisure space.

Richard Dawes, director in the hotels team at Savills, comments: “The sale of the Echo Building to Select Group reinforces the appeal of gateway UK cities like Liverpool to overseas capital and demonstrates the strong appetite for mixed use developments supported by fixed income hotel investments.”

Rahail Aslam, Group CEO of Select Group, adds: “Having deployed substantial capital in the city previously, we know Liverpool well and firmly believe it will deliver superior long term rates of economic growth and increase in its attractiveness to other institutional investors. We are thrilled to contribute with the redevelopment of the Echo Building, a landmark project that will be a fantastic showcase for the Innside brand and extremely well suited to corporate occupiers.”

Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP and Withers LLP acted for Reach PLC and Select Group respectively.

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BE Offices readies for expansion after £84 million refinancing deal

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Serviced office provider BE Offices has completed a £84 million refinancing deal with HSBC.

The refinancing package sets up BE for continued expansion and has extended the period of the company’s fixed debt to five years.

BE’s office portfolio has grown to 800,000 sq ft of flexible workspace in 19 business across the UK, 14 of which are in London.

Simon Rusk, BE’s Finance Director and co-founder, commented: “This is a major step forward for the company. Not only does the refinancing provide us with a solid foundation and security going forward, it also releases significant cash to fund our planned expansion over the next few years.”

David Saul, BE’s Managing Director and co-founder, added: “We regard this refinancing as a major endorsement of the business and its future. We believe BE is extremely well placed to take advantage of the fast-growing flexible workspace market. BE has a quarter of a century of successful and profitable experience in this market which we will bring to bear as the sector enters the next phase of its expansion.”

Last November BE acquired Headspace that took it into the tech, media and creative industries sectors for the first time. It also launched BESpoke last Autumn which is aimed at the corporate market.

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Battersea Arts Centre’s new co-working space welcomes first arrivals

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A NEW co-working space at one of south west London’s most well known arts venues has welcomed its first arrivals.

The first local businesses, creatives and charities moved into the Scratch Hub at Battersea Arts Centre earlier this week.

Scratch Hub, which draws its name from the the venue’s process for developing ideas for theatre and performance called “Scratch”, has a capacity of 50 workspaces.

Membership of the new co-working space is curated by the centre to develop a “diverse community for sharing skills, exchanging feedback, sparking connections and collaborating.”

The Scratch Hub is currently in a soft launch phase ahead of an official opening in November and the centre still has space for interested businesses or social enterprises.

Click here for more information about Scratch Hub

Built as Battersea Town Hall, the Grade II listed property on Lavender Hill in Battersea has been a community arts space since the mid 1970s.  The centre has bounced back after a major fire badly damaged the Grand Hall during a major renovation programme in 2015.

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New offices planned above Farringdon Crossrail platforms

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TRANSPORT For London (TFL) has announced that workspace provider HB Reavis will build seven storeys of high quality office space above the brand new Elizabeth Line platforms at Farringdon station in London.

The deal will see a new 138,000 sq ft mixed use development on the corner of Cowcross Street and Farringdon Road, adjacent to the station building, with retail space at ground floor and basement levels.

Each of the office floors will have a single core with a flexible floorplate of over 29,000 sq ft. HB Reavis says the development will aim to achieve the WELL Building Institute standard of Platinum, and will include a landlord-operated gym and one of London’s highest office space to terrace ratios.

Graeme Craig, Director of Commercial Development at TfL, said “With the arrival of the Elizabeth line, Farringdon will become one of the best connected places in London.

“We are therefore delighted to have reached this agreement with HB Reavis at this superb location.”

Twelve major developments are now planned over and around the new Elizabeth line stations and construction sites totalling three million square feet of office, retail and residential space between Paddington in the west and Woolwich in the east. The developments are expected to raise £500m for reinvestment in improving transport in London.

Services on the Elizabeth Line will begin in December 2018.

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Former Raleigh head office becomes England’s 400,000th listed building

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THE FORMER head office of the Raleigh Bicycle Company has been recognigsed with a Grade II listing and become the 400,000th property on the National Heritage List for England.

The purpose-built head office for Raleigh in Nottingham is one of several new additions to the list after the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport accepted the latest recommendations from Historic England.

Decorative panels by Nottingham-born artist Charles Doman showing cherubic children, known as putti, holding bicycle parts adorn the front of the property which was built in 1931 and designed by architect Thomas Cecil Howitt.

Raleigh were at one time the biggest manufacturer of bicycles in the world and they were major employers in Nottingham. The company sold the flagship head office in 1983 and moved to Triumph Road, also in Nottingham.

Today, the Howitt building as it’s named, is home to the Lenton Business Centre as well as organisations providing support to the African Caribbean community in Nottingham.

Other new additions to the National Heritage List for England include Elmdon terminal building at Birmingham Airport, Theatre Royal in Plymouth, and the Birches ‘Squatter’s cottage’ in Cleeton St Mary, Shropshire.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive, said: “The List is a treasure trove of special historic places that demonstrates the rich variety of England’s history. Reaching 400,000 entries is a milestone – it confirms just how important our heritage is and how much deserves protecting for future generations.”

Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “The National Heritage List for England tells the story of our past, and the people, places and events that shaped it. This landmark highlights the huge diversity of historic places that we have protected and the integral role heritage plays in our culture.”

Image: Decorative panel by artist Charles Doman. (Historic England).

Posted in Devon, Northamptonshire, Shropshire, West Midlands | Leave a comment

Open-plan office workers are more active, research says

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NEW research from the US says that open-plan office workers are more active.

The study by academics at the University of Arizona also found that workers in an open-plan setting are less stressed than those in cubicles.

Data from 231 workers across four sites wearing chest sensors was analysed as part of the research which has just been published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

“Higher physical activity at the office was in turn related to lower physiological stress outside the office as measured by heart rate variability,” was one of the key findings of the report.

It concludes by saying that “office design, driven by office workstation type, could be a health-promoting factor.”

External link: Effects of office workstation type on physical activity and stress

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Victorian Liverpool office building to become a hotel

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A VICTORIAN office building in Liverpool city centre is to be turned into a new hotel.

The Russell Building at the junction of School Lane and Peter’s Lane has been largely left empty since the internal office space was modernised as part of the Liverpool ONE development eight years ago.

Plans from regeneration specialist YPG will see five floors of the six storey Portland stone building turned in to a fifty bedroom boutique hotel with roof terrace.

A ground floor unit occupied by Hotel Chocolat will be unaffected by the redevelopment.

The Liverpool property dates back to the 1860s has been home to various companies and organisations since then including Shell, Colmore cars, Vernon pools, Joblink, and NACRO.

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