New occupers for Middlesbrough’s flagship office development

Two of the UK’s most prominent firms of barristers are the latest businesses to move into Centre Square – Middlesbrough’s flagship office development.

Dere Street Barristers and Park Square Barristers will join the XPS Pensions Group in the award-winning 2 Centre Square.

Next year the newly-created GB Bank will open its headquarters in the building and details will be released soon of another new arrival.  Then only one wing of 2 Centre Square – around 5,500 sq ft on the ground floor – remains to be let.  1 Centre Square’s office space is already fully occupied by Firstsource and Causeway.

In January building work is due to start on 6 Centre Square – a four-storey 40,000 sq ft office development.  AXA UK has already confirmed that it will move its 450 local staff there.

Developer Mark Ashall of Ashall Projects launched the Centre Square project six years ago, in partnership with Middlesbrough Council, with the aim of revitalising the heart of the town by attracting employers offering well-paid jobs.  He believed that businesses would only move there if high quality office space was provided.

(left) Mark Ashall, director of Ashall Projects, and Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston

(left) Mark Ashall, director of Ashall Projects, and Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston

“All of the team responsible for Centre Square – as well as Middlesbrough Council – should be extremely proud of what has been achieved despite the disruption caused by the pandemic,” said Mr Ashall.

“More importantly there are now companies in Centre Square employing hundreds of people and many of them have plans to recruit additional staff.  That’s great news for all the people who have been hired as well as the local shops, restaurants and bars who will feel the benefit of the increased spending power in the town centre.”

The headcount at XPS, for example, has risen from 78 in October 2020 to 120 now and it is still recruiting.  Its new contact centre is also growing faster than expected.

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: ““This is more fantastic news. It is further evidence that, despite COVID, Middlesbrough is re-emerging as the regional hub for jobs, energy and investment.

“Well done to Middlesbrough Council staff for their valuable input in making this happen. I know this is only one of many positive announcements coming.

“These new offices are attracting businesses to central Middlesbrough.

“At the same time, bit by bit, we’re working with private landlords to get their empty office buildings renovated and let to bring even more businesses and jobs into the centre of our town.”

Both firms of barristers believe moving to Centre Square will benefit their businesses.  Phil Paxton, head clerk of Dere Street Barristers, said: “We have been looking for some time at acquiring a premises in Middlesbrough to help service the needs of our clients in this region and it has taken a while to find a place that meets our requirements.  We are very pleased that 2 Centre Square ticks all of our boxes.”

He added: “Dere Street Barristers is one of the largest sets of barristers in the country with over 100 members of Chambers practising primarily in the North East.  We have strong roots servicing the legal requirements of the people of Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley and always have a large presence at the courts in this region.  Many of our members have gone on to become judges in the courts in and around Teesside after having successful careers at the bar.”

Park Square Barristers has more than 180 barristers and 30 support staff in the UK.  Fifteen barristers and three staff are moving to Centre Square and there are plans to recruit more

Senior managing clerk Richard Sadler said: “We are absolutely delighted to secure these premises which will provide the perfect foundation for growing our business and our brand in the North East.

“This is a modern impressive building – perfectly located within a stone’s throw to Teesside Combined Court Centre and the Magistrates Court.  We can’t wait to get started.”

Commercial property specialist Dodds Brown has been involved from the outset in the Centre Square project and has helped secure the arrival of the new occupiers.

“For too long Middlesbrough has been by-passed by employers because it didn’t have the standard of office they required,” said Dodds Brown’s senior partner Stephen Brown.

“Centre Square has changed all that.  But now the first two buildings are nearly full we must not rest on our laurels.  More high-quality space must be provided to ensure we don’t miss out again, particularly as there’s going to be high demand for offices from the global companies which will be operating out of the freeport for years to come.”

Ashall Projects has already taken major steps to build on the success achieved to date and attract employers who wish to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the freeport and new government campus in the region and want to provide a great working environment and access to amenities and local transport for their staff.

In July Middlesbrough Council also approved an outline planning application for three further Centre Square buildings which together would have room for around 1,000 office workers.