If anyone needs convincing that the business community in the North East is thriving, they should take a trip to the Lingfield Point mixed-use hub in Darlington.
This modern 1.3m sq ft business park, built on the site of an historic local wool factory, is not directly part of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative, but it is a prime example of what is possible and what many new developments in the region should seek to emulate.
More than 50 businesses employing more than 3,050 people have already been enticed by the modern and flexible warehousing and office accommodation on the Tees Valley site.
The local economy has received a major boost as tenants including the NHS, insurer NFU Mutual, the Student Loans Company, Capita, The Wood Group and Dunlop UK have moved in. There are plenty of successful smaller businesses there, too, such as marketing and advertising agency Dickinson Media and mental health specialists IPT Training & Therapy Services.
The hub is owned by London-based Frogmore, which bought Lingfield Point last summer on behalf one of its UK value-add funds.
If employers are to find and retain the talent they need, they must be able to offer a nice working environmentTim Allibone, director of asset management, Frogmore
“Lingfield Point is already an established award-winning site with one of the region’s most sought-after business postcodes,” says Frogmore’s director of asset management Tim Allibone. “It has a unique look and feel, with its attractive art deco features, and offers flexible space in a selection of different-sized buildings, from 200 sq ft units for start-ups to 130,000 sq ft facilities for larger companies.”
Lingfield Point is located just off the A66, two miles east of Darlington town centre and close to a massive new Amazon warehouse.
With a rich history, the site was built in the 1940s for Patons and Baldwins wool factory and was the first major post-war industrial development in Darlington and was hailed as the most modern and largest single-storey plant of its kind in the world.
Today’s tenants benefit from a huge employment base in Darlington and from the surrounding areas, including North Yorkshire, Durham, Newcastle and Leeds.
The town itself has a working population of 65,000 with 25 per cent of potential employees educated to degree standard. There are six universities within a one-hour drive time and Darlington is only two hours and 20 minutes from London King’s Cross by train, with Durham Tees Valley airport close by.
The work being undertaken by Frogmore and by previous owners to transform the old factory into a fresh and attractive place to work is helping companies attract the talent they need.
““Recruiting good people is a competitive business,” says Allibone, “and if employers are to find and retain the talent they need, they must be able to offer a nice working environment. Among the facilities we have include a café and a creche, and there are plans for lunchtime fitness sessions and for more regeneration of the outside space.”
The site has extensive car parking, strong public transport links, superfast fibre broadband, 24-hour security, CCTV and on-site staff.
All the buildings have a history and ‘a story to tell’, while the atmosphere is friendly Tim Allibone, director of asset management, Frogmore
Allibone uses the Student Loans Company as an example of what is possible for larger employers at Lingfield Point.
The Government-owned, non-profit making organisation covers loans worth more than £100bn and has been based in the award-winning Memphis building since 2008.
Student Loans Company is one of Darlington’s biggest employers, with 1,400 staff based on a single floor. Derek Ross, executive director of operations at the Student Loans Company, wanted an office space that local people would enjoy visiting and which would encourage collaborative working.
Frogmore has built a reputation as a specialist for repurposing buildings and delivering creative design solutions. Allibone says the current business plan is to reposition and transform more of the warehouse space at Lingfield Point into the same high specification as that enjoyed by the Student Loans Company.
“Large bright single floor plates are ideal for call centres or for companies looking for a suitable space for their research and development activities.”
There is certainly a buzz around the Lingfield Point hub because it hosts so many companies of different sizes and from varying sectors.
“All the buildings have a history and ‘a story to tell’, while the atmosphere is friendly. One of our plans is to create a local business networking forum so tenants can discover if and how they can work with other companies on the site.”
He adds: “Frogmore buys assets with huge potential that we can refurbish and reposition, and we identified that we could do something special with Lingfield Point. It has fantastic buildings, is in a great location with some excellent existing lettings that we can build on. We are very excited about the next chapter of the Lingfield Point story.”
For further information regarding this scheme please contact Andrew Wilkinson or Jonathan Simpson, Connect Property North East, 01642 602001.