WE’VE all heard the old adage - location, location, location. And when it comes to business, it’s critical.
Finding the right home is important for any company, from the sole trader to the biggest employers.
And many ingredients go into creating the suitable environment for economic success – from the right kind of premises to transport links and logistics, being close to customers and suppliers and access to facilities which benefit staff.
Despite tough economic conditions, and a downturn in the construction sector, development has continued at business parks across the North East.
Marchday is pushing ahead with its £100m scheme at Lingfield Point, the next phase of its development of the Darlington business park.
This will include 1,200 ecohomes, public sports facilities, local shops and restaurants, a medical centre and school as well as artists’ studios and allotments.
Developer Marchday has created Lingfield Point by redeveloping the old Paton and Baldwin’s wool factory site off Darlington’s McMullen Road.
More than 250,000sq ft of office space has been let at the site in the past five years and more than 1,500 people currently work there.
But the number of people working on site could eventually exceed the 4,500 employed in the wool factory’s heyday.
Marchday has said its ambitious plans will complete its 15-year vision for the regeneration of the site. John Orchard, director of Marchday, said work was now starting to implement its latest plans.
“We’d like to start building the first homes at the site in the next 18 months,” he said. “This will be a joint venture and we’ve had a lot of interest.”
A combined heat and power plant is also part of the scheme, for efficient creation of heat and electricity to use in homes and businesses.
“We’d hope to have that up and running next year,” added Mr Orchard.
In Middlesbrough the second stage of a multi-million-pound regeneration scheme has been completed – and let.
Work began on Hudson Quay 2, the second of five buildings that make up Middlehaven’s Manhattan Gate project, last year.
It will be the new home of Middlesbrough Primary Care Trust after the organisation agreed terms on a 15-year lease. A new vision has also been unveiled for the future development of Wynyard Park.
Up to 2,000 new homes could be built on the 700-acre site along with new health, leisure, shopping and community facilities.
In County Durham, plans announced to create up to 600 jobs by building three bases to lure international technology businesses to the region have been given a £10m boost.
The North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield has been given the cash to build three facilities, covering 60,000sq ft, suitable for large science and technology players.
NETPark says it is in talks with interested parties from the North East as well as international groups interested in making the park their UK home.
NETPark is already home to hi-tech operations such as the Centre For Process Innovation’s Printable Electronics Technology Centre (Petec) and technology firm Kromek which has attracted worldwide interest by developing a scanner that can be used in airports to detect explosives or narcotics in bottles without opening them.
But the region’s eclectic industrial make-up means there is demand for a whole range of accommodation.
Bright, modern offices, research and development facilities and factory space are just some of the types of accommodation this area can offer.
The North East has also seen demand for big sheds – major warehousing facilities.
Both Tesco and Asda now have import facilities based at Teesport.
Asda, which opened its 360,000sq ft import centre at Teesport in 2006, has already saved more than 1.3m road miles since using PD Port’s Logical Link service, which began operating just over a year ago – the equivalent to almost three trips to the moon and back.
But business space needs to be more than just functional to meet today’s demands.
And innovative design has seen developments across the region gain recognition.
Among this year’s 2010 RICS North East Renaissance Awards was Middlesbrough’s £10m Boho One – the centrepiece of Teesside’s digital hub. The project took both the Commercial Award
Judges said the project was a “unique type of office environment that responds specifically to the changing needs and creative temperaments of digital businesses.
“It has established itself as a landmark on the skyline with its striking black, red and silver towers and three wind turbines set on the roof.”
But it’s not just about location. Environmental sustainability and facilities that cater for more than just the nine-to-five day are becoming increasingly important.
Low-energy, state-of-the-art office buildings with a raft of environmental and energy-saving features are now high on businesses’ wish lists when it come to accommodation.
And with changing work patterns and efforts to encourage better work-life balance for staff, the region’s business parks need to expand their facilities, creating communities rather just places of work.
Plus as more of us look to adopt healthier, green ways of living facilities , such as cycle paths, car share opportunities and fitness centres, can all prove attractive.
Transport links and access also key.
The region’s road network and good rail links make the North East an attractive proposition to those looking to make the move.
And the North East is supported by two airports – Newcastle and Durham Tees Valley.
At the end of last year Newcastle was crowned the UK’s best airport after the British Air Transport Association picked it over Cardiff and East Midlands.
And both Teesport and Port of Tyne offer excellent links by sea to the region from the rest of the world.
It’s all of these ingredients that help make the North East an attractive proposition for business growth and development.
Business space needs to be more than just functional to meet today’s demands