February 16, 2021 @ 9:51 by Steven Hugill
A North East law firm has announced a landmark office move.
Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) is switching from its two Newcastle offices to the city’s flagship Helix development.
Bosses at the company, which is the region’s largest law firm, say it will occupy The Spark building on Helix, with its 450-strong team expected to move into a 47,500sq ft space in 2022.
Newcastle Helix is a unique partnership between Newcastle City Council, Legal & General (LGIM) and Newcastle University, bringing together industry leaders, businesses and top researchers, and is already home to many companies, including leading tech and science businesses, which are benefiting from its innovative and flexible workspaces.
WBD has a strong history of supporting Newcastle Helix and recently advised Newcastle City Council on its joint venture with Engie to develop low carbon district energy infrastructure projects, including the district green energy scheme at the heart of Newcastle Helix.
Announcing its move, WBD real estate partner and newly-appointed office head Nigel Emmerson said the switch “reaffirms the business’ commitment” to the North East, having first laid down roots in the region back in 1786.
He said: “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, WBD is committed to playing its part in the economic recovery of the North East by leveraging our breadth of resource, expertise and transatlantic connections so the North East can continue to be amongst the best places in the UK to live, work and do business.
“The pandemic has challenged conventions of office working and is pushing businesses to adopt more flexible and innovative working styles.
“We’re looking forward to our move to the Newcastle Helix which offers a collaborative ecosystem for public and private companies and is considered a hub of innovation in Europe. As a firm dedicated to embracing and driving innovation in the legal sector, the new space is a perfect fit for us.
“Our move to the Quayside in 1998 was transformative for our business, and we hope the move to the Helix in 2022 will have similar results.
“We are very proud of our history, but incredibly excited about our future.
“The office move reaffirms our commitment to the region and to Newcastle city centre; a thriving Newcastle is vital to the health of the North East and we intend to play our part in its future.”
Ben Rodgers, head of regeneration at LGIM Real Assets, added: “This deal demonstrates the continued demand for smart and adaptable ‘future’ office space, despite the challenging times we are in.
“As we prepare for economic recovery, businesses like ours must continue to invest in our future and it is more important than ever that we deliver place-led urban regeneration schemes that our society needs, whether that be flexible new office space, housing or necessary transport infrastructure.
“We are excited to welcome WBD to Newcastle Helix, becoming part of our inspiring new community.”
Councillor Ged Bell, cabinet member for employment and culture at Newcastle City Council, said WBD’s move “signals confidence for the future”.
He said: “In challenging times, Newcastle Helix is playing a vital role in the recovery of our economy – fostering innovation, attracting businesses, and creating jobs for those who live and work in our city.
“We are delighted that WBD will be part of our vision to help people live smarter and healthier lives.
“This move signals confidence for the future and emphasises the demand for ‘offices of the future’ as business adapt to new ways of working and collaborating.
“It isn’t just about the quality of the design and build businesses are looking for, it’s unique eco-systems that foster collaboration and support healthy workplace cultures – making Newcastle Helix the perfect fit.”
WBD is a transatlantic law firm, providing services to regional, national and international clients from 27 locations across the UK and the US.
In addition, it has a growing global network in more than 120 countries through its exclusive relationship with Lex Mundi, the world’s largest association of independent law firms.