Contracts have been signed to deliver the next stage of the multi-million pound regeneration of Middlesbrough as a regional centre for business.
Developer Ashall Projects will build a four-storey 40,000 sq ft Grade A office building on a vacant site near Melrose Street.
It has been confirmed that insurance company AXA UK will move more than 450 staff there from its operations in the Tees Valley.
The new building – Six Centre Square – is being funded and bought by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority. Middlesbrough Council is also contributing a £2m grant to the project from of its Towns Fund allocation which was provided by the government as part of the levelling up programme.
Construction will start in early 2022 and the building is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2023.
This is the latest phase in the Centre Square project which has already seen major employers, such as Firstsource, XPS and Causeway, bring around 1,000 existing and new staff into the first two buildings which – with further announcements imminent – will soon be nearly fully occupied.
Mark Ashall, director of Ashall Projects, said the go-ahead for Six Centre Square resulted from the strength of the partnership between the public and private sectors and their shared vision for the future of Middlesbrough.
“For many years the centre of Middlesbrough has not had the Grade A office space needed to attract employers offering attractive and well-paid office jobs. Centre Square has changed that and we will also see local businesses – shops, restaurants, bars and gyms – benefit from this influx of people with real spending power.”
He added: “This is the next stage in the development of Middlesbrough as a professional services hub providing easy access for businesses serving both Teesworks, the nearby Central Government hub as well as the wider area.
“It is another game-changer alongside the launch of direct train services between Middlesbrough and London and the council’s bid for city status.”
Anna Fleming, chief operating officer at AXA UK Retail Insurance, said Six Centre Square will provide the insurer with an ideal base for its growing workforce as the company continues to recruit throughout 2022.
“We’re delighted to confirm our move to this great new building in the middle of Middlesbrough town centre,” she said.
“Relocating to Six Centre Square means we can provide a better working environment for staff by offering greater flexibility and a range of wellbeing solutions in a building which will lead the way in energy efficiency and sustainability. We’re proud to continue showing our support and commitment to Middlesbrough and its ongoing regeneration.”
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: “It’s another positive step forward – one of many.
“It’s great to be working with Ashall Projects, bringing really high-quality employers into the centre of Middlesbrough and this will be a further catalyst for more jobs and more opportunities.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I’m delighted AXA have confirmed they will be moving into Six Centre Square when it is complete, the move will mean they grow further and create more well-paid jobs for local people.
“Our region is known the world over for our engineering, chemical and processing skills, but we also have a fantastic workforce when it comes to professional services.
“This is just the latest development we’re backing to show businesses that, whatever their needs, they can do it here and don’t have to go to a city Newcastle, Leeds or Manchester.
“This will help them play a part in our region’s success and bring more people to our town centres, supporting brilliant local businesses and boosting regeneration for the good of everyone.”
In July the council’s Planning and Development Committee approved an outline plan for three further Centre Square buildings which will provide space for another 1,000 office staff.
Committee members were told that it was originally estimated that the whole Centre Square project would provide an additional annual boost of £92.4m to the local economy. That has now been revised to more than £120m.