Developer Ask Real Estate has officially handed over One Strawberry Lane in Newcastle city centre to Home Group, one of the UK’s largest providers of social housing. The 70,000 sq ft six storey building, designed by Ryder Architecture and built by BAM Construction, is Home Group’s new headquarters providing a sustainable workspace for 700 of its 3,500 strong workforce. It will be open and accessible to the local community and is the first workspace in the UK to be specifically designed for a post-Covid hybrid way of working.
Home Group has taken a 30 year lease on the building which was acquired by Canada Life Asset Management in 2020 for approximately £30m. Two of the five floors will be let to external organisations.
During development, Home Group has worked closely with Connected Voice, an organisation which supports local charities, social enterprises and voluntary community groups, to help tailor One Strawberry Lane’s space, and the expertise within.
During construction One Strawberry Lane returned a 44% social value score, (validated by The Social Value Portal), three times the national average for a similar sized project. The resulting benefits include:
£16m spend with local SME companies within 30 miles (77% of total spend)
182 people engaged in industry workshops which ranged from university lectures and STEM events, to women in construction career talks and mock interviews
31 local unemployed people into work
19 apprentices gained training on the project with 398 apprenticeship weeks delivered
Grassroots sports supported
Mental health and wellbeing initiatives for the workforce throughout
379 children attended STEM events
Over 100 primary aged students attended BAM workshops
617 hours of local volunteering
Home Group and its delivery partners Ask and BAM also set up a community projects fund, with a pot of £150,000, comprising financial contributions, labour and donated materials. Seven projects run by local charities and community groups were selected for support, including: a new wellbeing centre at The Mercy Hub; a community garden at Pendower and the redecoration of the West End Foodbank.
Ask worked closely with Home Group to secure funding and to deliver a next generation office building which would satisfy the Group’s long term workspace requirements whilst also delivering a highly sustainable, energy efficient and flexible building. One Strawberry Lane is the first in the region to achieve both SmartScore and WiredScore certifications.
Mark Henderson, Chief Executive of Home Group, said: “This is a building like no other presently in the city. We are proud to be leading the way for things like SmartScore certification and to deliver the first purpose-built workspace for hybrid working.
“But, for me, what sets One Strawberry Lane apart above all else is the fact it will be integrated into its environment, working to support and interact with the city’s organisations, businesses and communities.
“Home Group has been rooted in the North-East for close to 90 years. We know this region, we know this city and we know its communities. One Strawberry Lane represents Home Group’s absolute determination to be ever closer linked into our communities. And I hope our office is the beginning of a trend for city centre offices to be more open and welcoming to their fellow citizens and be a part of a vibrant city culture.”
John Hughes, Managing Director of Ask Real Estate said: “We were determined to support Home Group’s aspiration to deliver a building which would be inclusive and reflective of its brand and values and which would deliver real change for the local community from the outset. It is great to now hand over this superb Grade A BREEAM Excellent office building knowing that even before the doors opened its delivery helped to support so many local community groups. It really has set the benchmark for future projects of this kind.”
John Phillips, Regional Director for BAM Construction in the North East, said: “Creating these new facilities in the heart of the city has been a huge construction achievement. Putting the building design to one side, the technical and logistical challenges in the ground and around this plot were significant on their own.
“I’m delighted by the first-class attitude of a talented and creative team which not only mastered a complex construction challenge but also went the extra mile to generate so much money for local businesses and charities. The team got involved with the community, generated orders for many local businesses, created local jobs, and trained young people for future careers in an industry that truly needs them. I wish Home Group the happiest of experiences in these new facilities and I know many of the local community will be able to share this with them. BAM’s legacy from our partnership with Home Group is a highly sustainable new space in the city that will serve the needs of a great many people for a long time to come.”