The next phase of Centre Square – Middlesbrough’s flagship office development – has been given the go ahead amid news that hundreds of jobs could be coming to the new building.
Members of Middlesbrough Council’s Planning and Development Committee unanimously approved plans to build a four-storey 40,000 sq ft Grade A office building – Six Centre Square – on a vacant site in Melrose Street.
It will join the two completed buildings, One and Two Centre Square, where around a thousand office staff employed by four companies are starting to move in.
Outlining plans for Six Centre Square, the project’s architect – Sarah Sabin, director of Seymour Architecture – told the Planning and Development Committee that the new building would be of the same high standard as One and Two Centre Square and designed to provide flexibility for future tenants to allow them to embrace new working practices. This would also give the building longevity.
“It is a common misconception that there is not a demand for office space within Middlesbrough town centre due to the number of empty units” she told councillors. “However, this is not the case.
“It is just that these empty buildings are not fit for purpose and that even with extensive investment to improve them they would not meet the standards of a modern Grade A office and the requirements of most modern occupiers.
“One and Two Centre Square have demonstrated that there is a market for high quality developments in the town, circa 85% of the 100,000 sq ft available is now let to a variety of tenants including those in the digital and professional sectors.
“It is worth pointing out that these lettings were made during a global pandemic which has seen a significant change in the way that we work, yet the flexibility with the designs has ensured that they can meet the changing needs of business.”
Committee member Cllr David Coupe, who is the leader of Middlesbrough Council’s Conservative group, said Six Centre Square “will be of great benefit to the town.”
Independent Cllr Carolyn Dodds compared it to Melrose House, which used to stand on the proposed site. “It’s a really lovely building after the rubbishy one that they’ve demolished,” she said.
After the meeting Mark Ashall – the director of Ashall Projects, the developer behind Centre Square – confirmed that after two-and-a-half years of negotiations terms had been agreed with a blue chip multi-national company to create a centre of excellence in Six Centre Square and locate between 600 and 700 staff there.
Discussions are under way with key stakeholders to arrange the financing required to enable it to proceed.
“This is a fantastic opportunity but only possible because of the town centre location,” said Mr Ashall. “The lesson from successful towns and cities is that employers and their staff want to be in the centre because of transport links and the proximity of shops, restaurants and services.”
Ashall Projects has also submitted a revised masterplan for three further buildings, including one which has a floor space of more than 100,000 sq ft over seven storeys.
A new image has been released showing how, as part of this proposal, a giant outdoor screen, seating areas and attractive landscaping will make Centre Square a focus for entertainment and leisure for all Middlesbrough residents.
Mr Ashall added: “We wanted to share this stunning vision we have for Centre Square. We thought it would have been the perfect location for Treasury North, but that is going to Darlington – which is still great news for the Tees Valley.
“However, the government is planning to move thousands more civil service jobs out of London – and private sector employers are already seeing why Centre Square is such an ideal place for a business – so the future, and the benefits which will be felt throughout Middlesbrough, is hugely exciting.”
Stephen Brown, senior partner with commercial property agent Dodds Brown, said: “Centre Square is already delivering on its promise with the arrival of four major employers bringing new jobs and revenue directly into the town centre.
“After the chancellor’s Budget speech, Teesside is in the public eye more than it has been for years, but we mustn’t let this momentum slip. Centre Square provides the hub for Teesside’s business.”