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Open for business

Lord Shipley recently suggested the government should be considering the relocation of government departments from expensive London headquarter buildings to the regions, including the North East.

Undoubtedly that would be a great boost to the North East economy if delivered. Market intelligence provided to a recent round table discussion held by The Journal with the main commercial agents operating in the local marketplace (supported by commentary from key local developers) help explain why this should be attractive. Headline rents of £23 per sq ft with total occupation costs of £38 per sq ft compare very favourably with London West End total occupation costs of £157 per sq ft.

Could this happen?

History suggests not. In 2003, 15 years ago, Sir Michael Lyons was requested by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer and deputy prime minister to analyse this very idea. Despite suggesting that it made commercial sense very little came of it.

Newcastle City Council have taken the lead to help deliver of new commercial space with their use of innovative structures to kick start development projects in the city at Stephenson Quarter and Newcastle Science Central.

There is no reason why the North East should not be an attractive proposition for a number of reasons:

  • It has a well-respected and skilled workforce.
  • We have five great regional universities with fantastic reputations. They have a key role to play in ensuring graduates coming to the city stay working in the region.
  • The North East offers a fantastic environment in which to work, with great leisure and cultural offerings, beautiful countryside and coastline and historic buildings.

The private sector and public sector need to continue to work together to deliver comprehensive development comprising commercial space with supporting housing, schools and communal facilities to show the government and inward investors that the region is “open for business”.

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