Nationwide construction and engineering since 1983

November 5, 2019

Tolent was formed in 1983 and has since become one of the largest construction companies in the North East

From humble beginnings of a £10,000 concrete road to a £190 million Garden Village, Tolent has grown into a major construction company within 40 years. It currently has seven regional offices across the country including in Gateshead, Washington, Middlesbrough, York, Leeds and London – and the company is still growing.

Turnover for 2019 is expected to exceed £180 million and is targeted to exceed £225 million in 2020.

Tolent chief executive Andy McLeod says: “We might not be a national tier one contractor, but in the North East our presence, longevity and annual workload is up there with any of the nationals.”

Having amassed significant experience across a range of construction sectors including housing, residential, commercial, retail, supported living, education, healthcare, hotels, sport and leisure and student accommodation, Tolent also operates specialist services including civil engineering and a national asbestos removal and environmental services department.
But it’s the company’s 400-plus colleagues who make the real difference, according to its founder and director John Wood.

“The wonderful thing about Tolent is that no matter how much we have grown or the sort of project we have been involved with – in what has been a tough sector – the spirit of the company has never changed,” John enthuses. “We have always had a can-do attitude and as I have always said to the people who work here, we look for solutions, not problems.”

Landmark buildings

With a proven track record of delivering landmark developments that have and continue to transform cityscapes and skylines, Tolent is now recognised as playing its part in bringing confidence back to the North East construction sector.

Pre-recession, high-profile projects for Tolent included Sage HQ in Gosforth, Wellbar House, Time Central, Haymarket Hub, Northern Design Centre and Newcastle’s City Library, as well as the Echo Apartments in Sunderland.

Now, its developments, such as the rising Hadrian’s Tower in Newcastle city centre, the award-winning Beacon of Light and The Beam in Sunderland, and Durham’s transformational Milburngate project, are fast becoming the new landmarks across the region.

“Having worked in the North East all my life, Tolent has always been a brand I’ve found to be synonymous with the region, and now known throughout the UK. So when the opportunity came to join the business, there was no hesitation,” says Andy, who was appointed chief executive of Tolent in 2018.

“Understandably, it is projects such as the ones above that draw attention to us, but there is a wealth of other projects and developments ongoing that are every bit as important.”

Housing for all

One of the business’ greatest success stories is the formation and development of its housing arm. And with more than £50 million turnover generated in the North East, the team is looking to expand this business model further into Yorkshire, having already secured a number of opportunities.

Delivering development and residential contracts across the region, either by design and build contracts, land-led opportunities or by its joint venture development model – from small in-fill sites of under ten units to large scale regeneration projects exceeding 1500 units – Tolent is doing it all.

Andy continues: “What is prevalent at the moment in the North East is the residential market, and the private rented sector in particular, and at Tolent we have a strong pipeline of work coming off the back of Hadrian’s Tower, which we’re building for The High Street Group. We’re also experiencing a lot of success working with local authorities like Newcastle City Council, where we’ll soon be on a total of 17 sites building more than 450 new homes to meet a range of housing needs across the city.

“The North East is a huge region and our pipeline of work through this year and next is very strong.”

Tolent is also seeing some great wins through its development team.

Work on the first development under the Tolent Homes brand is progressing well at Hardwick Grange in Sedgefield, which will deliver 100 new build executive homes, using its range of house types.

Acting as developer and contractor on
this project, the team has responsibility for planning, finance, design, construction and sales, which under its end-to-end service provision could also include land acquisition, feasibility studies, funding and payback models, design development and marketing, enabling clients to engage at any part of the development lifecycle.

Inclusive communities

Its final success story for 2019 is the recently approved Seaham Garden Village that will see 1500 new homes built over the next ten years.

Working closely with Home Group, Tolent will build 1000 of the new houses, of which 750 will include a variety of new starter homes and homes for older people, as well as those in need of assisted living and dependent care facilities – creating a totally inclusive community.

Land for the remaining 500 houses will be sold to the private sector, and profit made from the sale will be used to subsidise the affordable housing and community facilities including construction of a school, village centre and estate-wide infrastructure.

This village centre will include a new innovation hub, which will be used by new and existing businesses, along with the region’s universities, to bring the latest research and innovation insight into the development of all aspects of the garden village.

It is anticipated that the development will create around 1000 jobs, including 500 new construction jobs and 300 jobs in the centre of the village, as well as a training academy established on site.

More than half of the development will be managed green space, including extensive parkland, sports facilities and play areas, lined by a network of more than three miles of landscaped paths and cycleways.


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