Wilton Centre reveals plans for Freeport development

The owner of the Wilton Centre is working on major plans to build manufacturing space, laboratories and offices on land inside the nearby Teesside Freeport.

Five buildings would allow room for established businesses to grow and accommodate around 500 staff.  Another 100 would work in a separate incubator hub offering “plug and play” laboratories as well as offices for start-ups.  

There would be around 180,000 sq ft of new space, with both the buildings and landscaping meeting the highest sustainable and environmental standards.

The Wilton Centre’s owner, Pioneer Group, believes the new development would be particularly appealing for companies working in the biopharmaceutical and circular economy sectors.

Pioneer Group Director Jeroen Houtzager​ said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to build upon the exciting ecosystem of innovative businesses based at Wilton Centre.

“The expansion would provide additional space for our existing occupiers, whilst the substantial tax benefits of the Freeport would help attract businesses from across the UK.  Together they will enhance Teesside’s deep talent pool which is already recognised worldwide for its work in high value manufacturing, focused on renewable materials and biopharmaceuticals.”

The Pioneer Group is the UK’s largest private owner and operator of science parks.  As well as the Wilton Centre there are another nine sites across the UK and Ireland in its portfolio. It helps high-tech businesses thrive – whether they are new or large companies – by supporting them with serviced accommodation, facilities and venture building activity. Ecosystems of like-minded businesses are encouraged to build connections across all of the parks.  

Last year Pioneer Group invested £2m in a major refurbishment at the Wilton Centre. 

Teesside-based Logic Architecture has been commissioned to design the new centre.  Its Managing Director Mark Barlow said: “The companies based there would be engaged in cutting edge research, development and manufacturing processes using the latest technologies.  Their surroundings – the buildings and the landscaping – must create the appropriate environment to reflect this and allow them to flourish.”

Logic created the award-winning TeesAMP business park in Middlesbrough and the Wilton Centre project would have a similar modular design.  “One size doesn’t necessarily fit all,” said Mr Barlow.  “We are providing a range of size of units but they can be easily adapted to fit a company’s needs.” 

The Wilton Centre’s international reputation for housing companies working at the forefront of their industries has grown through the activities of companies such as Absolute Antibody and Micropore Technologies.  Both played key roles in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Meanwhile, a plant designed by Wilton Centre-based ReNew ELP is approaching completion at nearby Wilton International.  It will be the first operation in the world to use a process which recycles plastics which up until now have been unrecyclable.  Yoghurt pots, plastic films and trays will be turned back into the chemicals and oils from which they were made.  They will then be made into new plastic products which will eventually come back for the process to be repeated. 

ReNew ELP, Absolute Antibody and Micropore Technologies are three of more than 60 companies – many involved in life sciences or the circular economy – based at the Wilton Centre. Together they employ around 750 people.   

For more information about plans for the new development please contact commercial property specialist Stephen Brown at s.brown@doddsbrown.co.uk or Claire Morton – the Wilton Centre’s Leasing and Finance Manager – at c.morton@wiltoncentre.com .