Kicking off our new series of interviews with members of the Bank House delivery team, we caught up with Tony Wordsworth, director at Avison Young, to find out more about his involvement in the project (which dates back 20 years!!)
What role do you play in the delivery team?
As joint letting agent, I am working with Paddy Matheson of Knight Frank on marketing the building and talking to prospective occupiers and their agents about the opportunities available.
Although the building won’t be available to occupy until Spring next year, we are already undertaking tours of the building with interested parties and having conversations about how we can accommodate their requirements.
Tony, tell us how long have you been involved in the Bank House project?
Would you believe it – nearly 20 years! My colleagues and I have been working on the former Bank of England site since back when we were known as Lamb and Edge, albeit acting on behalf of several previous site owners over that time. At the start we were based at Yorkshire Chambers on Pilgrim Street, which directly overlooks the site.
In terms of Bank House itself, my direct involvement dates back nearly 5 years, when the very initial discussions took place about delivering best-in-class office space to kick start the wider scheme.
What has been your most memorable day working on the project so far?
That would be the first time I saw the tower crane on site! I spotted it on the coast road not far from Tynemouth on my way into the office! It was an awesome sight especially after working on the project for so many years.
What are you most looking forward to when the building is finally completed?
For me it will definitely be taking the lift to top floor and enjoying the spectacular views. Newcastle is a relatively low-lying city, so from Level 14 of Bank House you will be able to see a very long way!
Tell us something we perhaps don’t know about Bank House.
When it was the Bank of England building, they used to store gold bullion there and the building had its own viewing gallery, complete with 12-inch thick glass – in many ways something straight out of a James Bond movie!! When the gold was delivered, there would be a full police escort with the traffic at a standstill, as security vans accessed the building via an underground entrance from Carliol Square!
What impact do you think the development of Bank House will have on the Newcastle office market?
With The Lumen nearly fully let and The Spark nearly 50% let, there is a real need for fresh Grade A office supply in Newcastle. This is important in order for the city to be able to attract and accommodate inward investment, so the North East as a region can compete at an international level.
As Bank House is the 1st of 3 buildings at Pilgrim Place, it will also help to establish a new office core for the city and stimulate interest for the buildings that follow.
What occupier trends are you seeing in the market?
After the pandemic, many organisations are re-evaluating their requirements. By and large the trend for most companies is that they may need less space – but require better quality space. Not only is this relevant from an ESG point of view but also as companies compete for the best staff in terms of recruiting and retaining talent.
ESG credentials are becoming a significant issue for office occupiers. I believe the Glasgow COP 26 conference last Autumn had a big impact on that front.
What range of sizes can Bank House accommodate?
A full floor offers around 10,000 sq.ft. and we can split floors to offer suites from around 5,000 sq.ft.
This means we have a lot of flexibility to accommodate a range of requirements from 5,000 sq.ft right up to 120,000 sq.ft.