Work has started on a multi-million pound office building which will bring hundreds more jobs into Middlesbrough’s Centre Square.
AXA UK will transfer its 450 Teesside staff there when it is ready next year. The building – 40,000 sq ft of Grade A office space over four floors – is the next phase of the landmark office development, led by developer Ashall Projects, which has already seen other high-profile companies re-locate into the heart of the town.
Last year XPS, Causeway and First Source moved into the first two buildings of the Centre Square development. They are about to be joined by GB Bank and two of the UK’s most prominent firms of barristers. Around 1,000 people will then be working in the new Centre Square offices.
AXA UK’s 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 its Towns Fund allocation which was provided by the government as part of the levelling up programme.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston, developer Mark Ashall and representatives of AXA UK have visited the site to mark the start of construction.
Mr Houchen said: “Our region is fast becoming the go to place for professional services firms looking to expand or relocate due to the fantastic facilities we have on offer. Following the announcement that the Treasury and other major government departments are coming to Darlington, bringing with them 1,500 senior civil service jobs, opportunities in professional services are growing.
“This means our young people can see that they can stay local and go far. Investing in Centre Square is a no-brainer as it’s a superb working environment and convenient location for businesses to thrive.”
Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: “Despite all the challenges, Middlesbrough’s making huge strides forward, and Centre Square is right at the heart of that positive transformation.
“AXA is just the latest high-quality employer to invest here. They will bring and create a wide range of well-paid jobs, while giving our town centre restaurants, cafes and shops a much needed boost.
“Middlesbrough hasn’t known regeneration like it’s currently experiencing for decades but the best is yet to come.”
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.
“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,” she said. “We’re proud to continue showing our support and commitment to Middlesbrough and its ongoing regeneration.”
The main contractor is Bowmer + Kirkland (B + K) which is managing the scheme from its North East office in Sunderland. It has already engaged a number of local companies and estimates that about two-thirds of the people needed for the project will live locally.
Ed Besford, B+K NE and Scotland Regional Director, said: “We are delighted to be working again with Ashall’s on the next development at Centre Square following our successful delivery of Centre Square phases 1 and 2. It is great to see the progression of this scheme and the benefits this will undoubtedly have on the local economy.”
Further phases of the Centre Square development are already planned. Last summer Middlesbrough Council’s Planning and Development Committee approved an outline plan for three more buildings which will provide space for another 1,000 office staff.
Developer Mark Ashall said Centre Square had been transformed into the business hub of the Tees Valley: “Middlesbrough previously lacked the high-quality office space needed to attract employers – and that has now been addressed.
“Centre Square’s buildings provide the light and airy working environment that both companies and their staff now demand. Their location means they also have easy access to transport links including the new direct service to London as well as the shops, restaurants and amenities of Middlesbrough town centre.”
He added: “After years of being seen as a backwater Teesside is now buzzing. The new Central Government northern campus, the Freeport and the various Net Zero Teesside initiatives make it an exciting time for the region. Centre Square, and the great working environment it offers, will play a key role in supporting the professional and business service providers who are being attracted to the Tees Valley which is rapidly becoming one of the UK’s most economically active areas.”
When the Centre Square development started in 2017 it was estimated that it would deliver an additional £92.4m each year to the local economy. That has now been revised to more than £120m.