Work has started on the 100,000 sq ft Regent Point office building at the Regent Centre, Gosforth. Joint agents Paul Nicholson and Tim Evans look at the background to Gosforth's Regent Centre, one of the region's largest and most successful business locations.
The Regent Centre is about a location in two halves. On one side of Regent Farm Road sits Northern Rock's headquarters and on the other side of the road sits Fordgate's Regent Centre complex.
Both Northern Rock and Fordgate are developing more office space which, when complete, will have over one million sq ft of office space employing thousands.
Northern Rock is adding another 125,000 sq ft to its campus and Fordgate is bringing forward Regent Point, a leading-edge office building with 25,000 sq ft floorplates.
In additional to Northern Rock and Fordgate, there are two additional office blocks at the Regent Centre, a civic hall, a swimming pool and a library which is being re-built as part of a PFI project.
These additional facilities, together with an adjacent Asda superstore and nearby high street shopping, make the location attractive to businesses with over 90% of the space occupied.
One crucial success factor is its position on the Great North Road. Formerly the A1 running north to south through Newcastle and Gosforth, it was a strong enough feature to make development here move ahead strongly through the late 1960s and early 1970s. From the original first phase, Clayton House, the majority of the Regent Centre was pre-let through successive phases - some 400,000 sq ft in all.
The subsequent establishment of the Tyneside Metro in 1979 and the building of the Regent Centre's own transport interchange featuring bus, Metro and car parking was another landmark, many years ahead of its time given the current thinking on transport nodes and the need to travel to work by a variety of means.
So a site sold to a property company - North British Properties - on the possibility that it may have been useful for housing development has now become a major business address. Its transport infrastructure, in place for many years is now even better in that the Metro covers a greater range of stations including Wearside. The city centre and a very much larger international airport are just minutes away.
It is this communications mix - Metro, car, bus, cycling and walking - and its freedom from city centre congestion which makes the Regent Centre such a strong location. It is a genuine alternative to the city centre.
* Paul Nicholson is head of agency at property agent Atisreal in Newcastle. Tim Evans is head of the Newcastle office of Knight Frank.