First commercial building and public realm completed at Firepool

St. Modwen, the UK’s leading regeneration specialist and the development partner of Taunton Deane Borough Council on the £270 million Firepool scheme in Taunton, has this week announced the completion of works on its first office building at the 17-acre site.

The 27,000 sq ft Headquarter office building, developed on behalf of UK recycling, renewable energy and waste management company, Viridor will be opened to staff as Viridor House in September (2012). More than 100 members of staff will move to the new premises from the current office on Station Approach following a full fit out of the new six storey building this summer. The existing listed head office building on Station Approach is expected to form an opportunity within a wider masterplan for Taunton Railway Station.

The completion marks a significant milestone in the delivery of the first phase of Firepool, which is part of Project Taunton, one of the largest town centre projects underway in the South West. As part of this first phase, St. Modwen has also delivered improvement works along the River Tone providing public realm at the heart of the development. This open space includes cycle and footpaths located within a high quality landscaped environment. Wider development proposals for this side of the River Tone also include 113,000 sq ft of office space, a hotel and 49 apartments.

Today (26 June) St. Modwen representatives welcomed Councillor John Williams, Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, Ian Franklin, Project Director for Project Taunton and Mike Hellings, Managing Director for Viridor to the site to officially mark the latest milestone. They were joined by representatives from Lewis Innovative Investments, which has purchased the Headquarter building to include within their syndicated Pension Portfolio as an investment, advised by Hartnell Taylor Cook LLP. Given the economic climate, the redevelopment and investment sale demonstrate the confidence in Firepool as the county town’s flagship mixed-use scheme.

Rupert Joseland, South West Regional Director for St. Modwen, commented: “The completion of this building shows a commitment to delivering on our plans and is the result of working closely with all our partners. The redevelopment of this area has enabled Viridor, as a successful company with ambitions for growth, to remain in the area, maintaining jobs and potentially bringing further redevelopment and investment to Taunton.

“Firepool’s unrivalled location near the heart of the town centre area combined with confirmed plans for the Northern Inner Distributor Road and draft proposals for the Railway Station makes the scheme attractive to potential occupiers. With completion of this first phase and ongoing occupier discussions, we are realising the vision to regenerate this strategic site.”

Mike Hellings, Managing Director for Viridor, commented: “Our company has a proud heritage, having been headquartered in Taunton for over 50 years. This is a good place to base a business. Viridor remains ambitious for further growth as we look to meet strong demand for more recycling and smart waste services from customers across the UK.

“Moving to Viridor House at Firepool is an important step to meet the current and future needs of our business within a top-quality development. We are all looking forward to moving in.”

Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, Cllr John Williams, commented: “This is an extremely important milestone in the regeneration of Taunton town centre. We have come a long way since the Vision for Taunton was launched and have achieved a great deal in a very challenging economic climate.

“I am delighted that Viridor has shown its confidence in Taunton by keeping its headquarters here. To have achieved such a prominent national company as the first occupier of this important site is a real vote of confidence for our regeneration programme and Taunton as a location for business in the heart of the South West. We must ensure this acts as the catalyst for more to come.”

Ian Franklin, Project Director at Project Taunton, who is responsible for driving Project Taunton, the 123 acre regeneration scheme, commented: “Firepool is now really on the map. We are expecting a start to be made on the Northern Inner Distributor Road – NIDR – in September and that should spark more activity at Firepool.”

Alastair Warwick-Smith, Property Asset Manager for Lewis Innovative Investments, commented: “We are delighted to have purchased this property on behalf of our investors, we share the vision for the Firepool Project and have confidence in Taunton as a location and believe this investment with the benefit of a long lease to Viridor will complement our existing portfolio.”

The 12 year Firepool scheme will be developed on a phased basis in line with market demand. On completion, the mixed use scheme will create up to 4,000 new jobs. In addition to office space, a mix of around 400 apartments and town houses are expected to be developed with leisure and retail facilities including a hotel, cafes and restaurants.

Alder King and Jones Lang LaSalle act as joint agents for the Firepool scheme.