Little and large excel in new district

Little and large excel in new district

Small businesses and sole traders are hitching their stars to one of Newcastle’s newest and most prestigious transformations in commercial property.

They’re thriving alongside the major tenants working from fully let Central Square, recently sold for £21.6m in the city’s rapidly reviving Stephenson Quarter. The 72,389 sq ft Central Square building, behind Newcastle Central railway station, is fully let to businesses including Ove Arup Partners, Jackson Solicitors, Bilfinger GVA, Cushman and Wakefield, 4 Projects and the Arts Council. And nearby, in one of the city’s oldest buildings, Grade II listed Clavering House, more than 150 people work for a cluster of smaller companies – or for themselves – benefiting from serviced offices and meeting rooms.

Companies there include marine lawyers Campbell Johnston Clark, GW Architectural, fund managers FW Capital, Rullion recruitment firm, and E-therapeutics, the drug discovery and development firm focused on cancer treatments. A modern annexe behind houses BEMCO, a Newcastle based family firm now one of the biggest independents in its business, supplying electrical products since 1893. Training facilities at Clavering House are also used currently by McDonald’s and Pizza Express.

Originally built around 1780, Clavering House was more recently home to the now disbanded Robson Brown media agency. Since 2012 it has been the business centre set up by Clavering House Ltd, whose directors are Alan Brown (ex-Robson Brown), his son James, Helen Reed, and serial entrepreneur Geoff Hodgson.  

Helen Reed, who’s managing director and formerly co-owned and managed Newcastle Business Village at Benton, says: “Inexpensive access to an NE1 postal address is a big attraction for young companies. Also widely appreciated is the presence of the mainline railway station almost next door, making it easy for out-of-town companies to hire a meeting room – even a boardroom – for receiving distant clients. Our co-working days attract freelancers and home-workers who like occasionally to join others and network too.

Clavering House, two storeys of English bond brick beneath a Welsh slate roof, is 90% occupied with three offices available (130 sq ft to 800 sq ft). The Claverings, after whom the Georgian building is named, were notables. Lt-Gen Sir John Clavering was one-time commander-in-chief in India. But it was his brother Sir Thomas, seventh baronet and colliery owner, who succeeded to the baronetcy of Axwell and family estates. He was an MP for diverse constituencies, paying £2,000 to secure one of the seats, before election to County Durham at a third attempt.

He married the daughter of Newcastle’s town clerk Joshua Douglas, and Clavering House served as the couple’s town home. Today it snuggles beside Central Square and Stephenson Quarter, whose eventual mixed use development is forecast to accommodate 2,000 jobs and add £100m a year to the regional economy. The four star Crowne Plaza Hotel already operates there.

Central Square‘s sale price (capital value, £298psf) reflects a net initial yield of 6.4%, after deduction of purchaser’s costs. The combined passing rent amounts to £1,446,126 a year.

Newcastle offices of Bilfinger GVA and Cushman Wakefield, for Parabola Estates, secured the sale to a Guernsey based UK commercial property trust, which was advised by Standard Life Investments. The Palladian Axwell Hall, a grade II* listed building, is about to be converted into 20 apartments.