Investors helping to develop Tyneside’s science and business park, Newcastle Helix, are set to pump a further £60m into the site.
L&G first pledged a £65million investment in the science park in 2016. The 24-acre center is a partnership between Newcastle City Council, Legal & General and Newcastle University, with the partners hoping that it will help create thousands of jobs, world-class offices and research spaces. , and hundreds of new homes.
Six years after financing the construction of The Lumen and Spark office buildings – at the time, the city’s biggest real estate deal in decades – the institutional investor is keen to back new developments on the site, starting by £60million on a build-to-let housing scheme consisting of two towers. It is also possible to support other buildings at Helix, including office space and research space, depending on what is needed to help deliver the vision of the council and the university.
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Andrew Kail, CEO of Legal & General Retirement Institutional (LGRI), announced the additional investment during a visit to the city with Newcastle-born Aysha Patel, Director of Origination at LGRI and Ben Rodgers, Head of regeneration, to meet members of Newcastle City Council. and department heads at Newcastle University, to see first-hand the impacts of the group’s investment so far.
He said: “The great thing about this site is that it feels like so much more than a collection of buildings. It was really good to see the buildings and how they have more connectivity with the west end of town. Seeing it come to life as a community and a place has been great – and there’s still a lot to do. The site still has a long way to go, but being on that path and watching is really what it’s been today.
“Our primary role is as a developer of key properties, those you see and those that are built to let as well. One of the great things about Legal & General is that we have a huge range of investment and interests we do for ourselves and our customers.
“If you think about what’s happening at the Biosphere, that’s really the type of investment we like to make. There are companies investing in areas like health tech that are of great interest to us. This is one of the benefits of partnership. We are there, we are not just third-party capital that comes in with funding and then disappears.
“By being on site and being part of the partnership with the university and the council, we are more likely to have access to and see some of the great biosphere companies and original buildings that are innovating and growing and may want to partnerships in capitals. We have a phrase at Legal & General – we are start-ups, scale-ups and adults – we invest in businesses at every stage to help them if we can if it fits our purpose and strategy.
Plans for the two towers, which form part of the original master plan, have yet to be finalized and submitted for planning permission, but have the potential to create 300 homes.
Mr Kail said: “There are still a lot of hurdles to overcome, but it would be great to see the residential site that is ours and planned, built. It will be great for the site and great for Legal & General.
“The build-to-let program would work really well for us. A perfect asset for us is fixed income monies over many, many years and that’s what build-to-let is all about – we’re looking for assets all the time like that and that’s why the potential of the site here is so appealing.
As part of the Leveling Up agenda, Mr Kail said Legal & General was helping urban regeneration across the country long before the phrase was coined, as evidenced by its investments in Newcastle, 100 million pounds pledged to Riverside Sunderland and similar projects in Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff.
£30billion has been invested in projects that would today be classed as Leveling up, he said, and much more will be needed for the government’s plan to succeed.
He added: “If you take some of the estimates just for infrastructure, in the UK we will have to spend £1billion over the next 10 years. We estimate that the insurance industry, through the work we’re doing on pension transfer, can close 20% of that gap. So if you’re the government and you’re wondering how we’re going to implement this upgrade program, Legal & General and companies like us are an extremely important part because we have the capital to enable it, as long as planning, ideas and programs are viable.