FIVE business centres set up to help regenerate former coalfield communities in the North East have changed hands after the sale of a 49% stake in the business.
North West-based property group Langtree yesterday announced it had taken full control of Network Space, which includes the five centres in the North East.
The announcement followed the acquisition of the Homes & Communities Agency’s (HCA) 49% share in its long-standing Network Space joint venture.
The centres in Northumberland are at Nelson Park in Cramlington and Wansbeck in Ashington, while the remaining three North East centres are the Glover in Washington, Murton Network Village in Easington and the Jarrow Network Centre.
The business was established by the Government’s Coalfields Task Force in 1999 as part of its efforts to support areas affected by the decline in traditional industries.
It now has more than three quarters of a million square feet of high quality industrial and commercial space under management.
Langtree Group chief executive John Downes said yesterday the initiative had exceeded original expectations.
“It’s been a big success,” he said. “Our original intention was to develop half a million square feet of space but the concept and the product have proven so popular that we’ve exceeded that by some margin.”
Downes explained that it had always been the stated intention of Langtree Group to take full control once the company’s development objectives had been met.
He added: “The product will not change as it’s popular and provides the right type of quality accommodation and lease arrangements for SMEs in the current market.”
Commenting on behalf of the HCA, Neil Mortimer, team leader, land and regeneration said: “We are proud of the role Network Space has played in supporting our wider work with local partners to help regenerate former coalfield communities.
“Helping to restore jobs and promote business was always a priority for these areas and the vehicle has been successful in providing quality workspace.”
Network Space owns 22 SME workspace estates and two centres across former coalfields of the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Midlands.