Building work is set to start imminently on a huge office block next to the iconic Strawberry pub.
Housing association the Home Group will be moving into a new headquarters next to the city centre pub, a favourite drinking spot for Newcastle United fans.
Developers say construction of the six-storey office building that will tower over two sides of the pub can now “start immediately” after securing a huge pot of new funding.
Ask Real Estate, which was appointed in August to deliver the One Strawberry Lane project, has got £30m of backing from Canada Life Asset Management to finance the scheme – with hopes that the 70,000 sq ft site will be completed in April 2022.
Newcastle City Council granted planning permission for the development earlier this year, saying the investment “could not come at a better time” given the impact of the Covid pandemic on the North East economy.
The Home Group’s new HQ is not a part of the huge redevelopment plans for the rest of Strawberry Place.
A series of large apartment blocks, office buildings, and a hotel were controversially approved last year for the land surrounding St James’ Park, despite heavy opposition from NUFC fans who fear it will block views of the stadium and prevent its future expansion.
Michael White, head of UK property for Canada Life Asset Management, said: “We are thrilled to be funding this project as we continue to invest in the North East.
“As Grade A office space One Strawberry Lane offered us the chance to support the development of a property which meets the highest standards in sustainability, efficiency and use.”
It is hoped that the “next-generation office building”, which will see around 700 Home Group staff brought into the city centre, will support an estimated 400 construction and supply chain jobs.
When Home Group’s designs were first unveiled in 2019, the Strawberry’s licensees said the project would “finally safeguard the future of this iconic pub”.
John Hughes, managing director of Ask Real Estate said: “Canada Life Asset Management’s investment is great news for the region and is a clear indicator of its commitment to funding prime Grade A offices such as One Strawberry Lane.
“We have worked closely with all parties to achieve a timely completion to the transaction and look forward to starting on site imminently.”
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Ask Real Estate is also behind the £260m Gateshead Quayside arena project that was given the green light last month.
John Hudson, chief financial officer at Home Group, added: “We are delighted to work with partners who have such a strong track record in delivering on key projects and look forward with great excitement to the day we take occupation of the building.”