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Former HMRC offices set to be converted into flats; DEVELOPMEN.

Byline: T COREENA FORD coreena.ford@ncjmedia.co.uk

APROMINENT Newcastle city centre office block could be converted into new homes after developers submitted an application for approval.

Aidan House has been marketed by commercial property agents in the city for some time, either to rent or to buy, with a freehold guide price of PS3m, but its offices have lain empty since 2010.

Now a newly-formed development business - Aidan House Developments Ltd - is aiming to bring the building back into use.

The developers have put in an offer for the building, the former offices of HMRC, subject to planning approval.

As a result, they have asked Newcastle City Council for notification for prior approval for a proposed change of use from B1, for office use, to C3 dwelling, meaning it could become anything from luxury city centre pads to another student accommodation scheme.

Plans submitted by the Londonbased developers show space for 11 cars and 60 bikes, with 139 studio apartments spread over five floors, with amenity space, a communal area and a balcony and terrace on the ground floor.

The adjoining building, Cuthbert House, will soon be refurbished and marketed to attract in new business tenants.

Tony Wordsworth, Bilfinger GVA's director and head of office agency in Newcastle, said: "The buildings have been managed by Commercial Estates since 1999 so, as landlords, they are long-term investors in Newcastle.

"And because Newcastle has lost so much office stock, they feel it's a good time to invest in Cuthbert House, so they are refurbishing the building and bringing something better to the market place."

The two directors of Aidan House Developments are Julian Mercer and Paul Pheysey, both of whom are wellestablished developers specialising in the prime central London market.

Mr Pheysey was originally an agent in the buoyant Chelsea market of the 1980s before moving into property-finding and development, while Mr Mercer is a former barrister turned architect and property developer.

The London firm's involvement is indicative of growing confidence in the regional markets outside of London, while also taking advantage of Government moves introduced in 2013 to bring offices like Aidan House back into use.

In May 2013 legislation was published introducing new permitted development rights allowing offices to be converted to homes without the need for planning permission.

The legislation has several restrictions, including a deadline of May 30, 2016.

Several former office schemes in Newcastle have been converted into hotels, flats and student accommodation following the legislation's introduction, removing office stock from the market at a time when Grade A supply is at a critical level.

Baron House serviced office reopened as the Hampton by Hilton Hotel at Newcastle central station earlier this year, close to Eagle Star House on Fenkle Street which now operates as the Indigo Hotel.

The former Turk's Head Hotel in Grey Street in Newcastle is to be converted into a 116-bed hall of residence following planning permission which was granted last December.

The building was most recently occupied by Barclays Bank until the firm moved into new Quayside premises, leaving the building vacant.

Meanwhile, Burgess House on St James' Boulevard is being turned into a PS7.5m student accommodation building, which is already sold out.

The former 30,000sqft office block marks the first Newcastle scheme for Fortis Developments, which has two schemes in Sunderland, with 110 studio rooms spread over five floors and communal facilities including an entertainment lounge, fullyequipped gymnasium, bike storage and laundry room.

In a separate planning application Flagstaff 2 Limited have applied for a proposed change of use from B1 Office to C3 Residential Apartments at Princes Buildings on Queen's Street, Newcastle Quayside.

The first floor offices at Grade II listed Princes Buildings, which includes a number of retailers on the ground floor, are currently underoccupied, with many units having been vacant for a long period of time.

As demand for this type of office space is decreasing, the owners plan to turn the offices into 10 new residential units.

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The Aidan House building, in Pilgrim Street, Newcastle

An image of the Burgess House student scheme
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 19, 2015
Words:682
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