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HMRC to move more than 9,000 staff into Newcastle city office block

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

More than 9,000 staff from HMRC are set to move into Newcastle city centre in the biggest office move the city has ever seen.

The workers from HMRC's current bases at Longbenton and Washington will move to Pilgrim's Quarter, a nine-storey office block on the site of the old Odeon cinema.

The building will be HMRC's largest regional centre, with the thousands of people moving into the city centre likely to prove a major boost to struggling shops, pubs and restaurants in the area.

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Staff are expected to complete the move by 2027, when HMRC leases on its current North East sites run out.

HM Revenue and Customs confirmed plans to quit its Benton Park View site earlier this year, triggering the search for a site large enough for its 6,500 employees.

How Pilgrim's Quarter will look (Image: Ryder Architecture)

Longbenton has been the base for the 'Ministry' since the late 1940s and thousands of people in the region have worked at its agencies over the last nine decades. The base currently houses a number of agencies including The Pension, Disability and Carers' Service, Jobcentre Plus and The Health and Safety Executive.

Jim Harra, HMRC's chief executive and first permanent secretary, said: "HMRC has had a longstanding presence in Newcastle and the wider North East. Signing the lease for the new regional centre is a clear demonstration of our commitment to the area, its economy and our employees based in the North East.

"Pilgrim's Quarter will deliver the inclusive, flexible and collaborative working environment that meets the current and future needs of our colleagues while improving career development opportunities."

Taras Properties - a development vehicle acting on behalf of real estate entrepreneurs Reuben Brothers, who are part of the consortium that bought Newcastle United - has been driving forward plans for the East Pilgrim Street regeneration which also include a number of offices, including Bank House on the site of the old Bank of England.

The Odeon site, currently home to the Stack container village, was originally planned to become a £200m luxury leisure, shopping and living scheme.

The pandemic and general changes in retail and leisure markets prompted the developers to revise those plans, however, instead coming up with the new plan for the city's biggest ever office block.

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said: "This is fantastic news for Newcastle and anyone who has a stake in the success of the city centre.

"Having a new development for 9,000 workers in the heart of the city will be great for transport operators, retailers and the hospitality trade. It will not only boost our economy but bring huge social value to the city as it continues to be transformed after the pandemic.

"It shows confidence in our vision and the £50m city centre transformation plan we launched earlier this year and comes on the back of organisations like the Home Group, Homes England, Monstarlab and others, choosing the city as their first choice for attracting and retaining great people.

"All these developments will bring a huge economic stimulus which is just what we need, and I wholeheartedly welcome it. "All planning applications are of course subject to the scrutiny of the independent planning process."

HMRC has been looking for a Newcastle city centre office to become its new home, and two sites were being considered which it said would "support the Government's green agenda" through sustainable office space and improved public transport links.

New Grade A office developments in Newcastle city centre have been in short supply in recent years, but Lumen at the science park Helix was picked to provide the new base for Government housing agency Homes England last year. Its twin office The Spark is now under construction and garnering interest.

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