Tree planting ceremony marks topping out for new HQ offices at Thorpe Park Leeds

Pictured from left are Lee Powell, CEO at GMI Construction Group PLC; Richard Burns, strategic project director at SGI; Antony Hall, studio director at CJCT; John Pears, CEO at Lowell UK

An official ‘topping out’ ceremony took place this week to celebrate the final steelwork and roof installation of the new £52m, office development at Thorpe Park Leeds.

The event signifies a major milestone in the latest phase of development at Thorpe Park Leeds, which is on track to realise developer, Scarborough Group International’s (SGI) vision for creating the largest mixed-use business destination in the north of England.

SGI hosted the event with local councillors and special guests from Lowell, which is relocating its headquarters to Thorpe Park. Guests also included representatives from construction partner GMI Construction Group PLC as well as the project design team.

The centuries old tradition of blessing a yew tree with the four symbolic elements of wine, oil, corn and salt took place atop the building.  The tree was then planted in Central Park, a 15-acre public green space that forms an essential health and wellbeing provision in the heart of Thorpe Park Leeds. Further planting is also planned around the estate as future phases of the scheme progress.

Last year leading credit management company, Lowell agreed the record-breaking pre-let following its commitment to the 133,118 sq ft, state-of-the-art workplace, representing the largest single out of town office deal ever recorded in West Yorkshire and the biggest property transaction in the Northern Powerhouse region over the last eighteen months.

Designed by award-winning architects, Carey Jones Chapman Tolcher, the building sets a new benchmark for future development at Thorpe Park Leeds. It is being constructed in line with the very latest human health and wellbeing standards with an environmental performance target rating of BREEAM ‘Excellent while also achieving an EPC A rating. Its location and adjacent landscaped public piazza will create an anchor point for the next development plots that will be largely pedestrianised, providing easy access to The Springs retail and leisure centre, Central Park and proposed 113-acre green park beyond.

GMI Construction Group PLC is the main contractor for the building, which extends over seven floors with two levels of underground podium parking and amenity below. Approximately 56,000 cubic meters of bulk earth has been excavated and redistributed across the site, saving the need for 7,000 lorry loads to leave the site, reducing the need for 14,000 vehicle movements.

This not only helps to increase efficiency but ultimately helps to reduce the overall environmental and carbon impact of the project.  The public realm at Thorpe Park is perhaps one of the most important considerations within the design of the building, introducing new green spaces to support local wildlife habitat and a place for staff and visitors to relax and unwind. 

Adam Varley, head of commercial at SGI, said: “We are delighted to reach this significant milestone with our delivery partners at Thorpe Park Leeds. Despite the many challenges caused by the pandemic we have collaborated as a formidable team to deliver this project to exacting standards and we give thanks to Leeds City Council, GMI Construction Group PLC, CJCT, Ares Design, BuroHappold, BWF Consulting, KNG Services, Pell Frischmann, Zerum, Walker Morris, Cushman & Wakefield, JLL, BNP Paribas and RA Real Estate for their contributions.

“We all continue to work closely with Lowell to deliver a culturally fitting and inspiring new workplace that will set a new benchmark for the future of workspace at Thorpe Park Leeds.  Alongside this building we are also progressing on site an associated multi-storey, 442-space, active travel hub to support the new phases of office development.”

John Pears, CEO of Lowell UK, said: “This week’s ceremony is an exciting milestone for the Lowell team as we continue the preparations to move to our new home at Thorpe Park Leeds in 2023. The move will provide us with a unique working environment designed to improve collaboration across the business, support colleagues to work in a more flexible way, increase wellbeing facilities, and meet the needs of our business, both now and in the future.” 

Lee Powell, CEO of GMI Construction Group PLC, said: “Thorpe Park has become an integral and strategic part of Yorkshire’s economy and we are proud to continue our long-standing contribution to its development through the construction of this new office.

“Working in close collaboration with SGI, we are helping to increase the availability of high-quality offices in the Leeds area for businesses such as Lowell UK.

“We are confident that office space, such as this, which is designed and built to meet new and modern ways of working will be key to how businesses operate in a post-Covid world.”

Thorpe Park Leeds is an already well-established business location, strategically located with its own dedicated access at Junction 46 of the M1. More than 900,000 sq ft of office space is already built and The Springs retail and leisure park sits at the core of the mixed-use business community with a line-up of major high street brands including Next, M&S, ODEON Luxe, Pure Gym, Boots, H&M and TK Maxx along with a growing range of smaller, independent, niche retail and leisure businesses.

Further development plans include the delivery of a 113-acre public park with sports and wellbeing facilities for the community of the Leeds City Region and beyond. The phase two development at Thorpe Park Leeds was enabled following a unique investment deal with Legal & General Capital in 2015.

Since then, a transformational 1.35 million sq ft mixed-use expansion has progressed bringing exceptional new business opportunities to the Leeds City Region.  It has also enabled the delivery of the first section of the ‘East Leeds Orbital Route’ (ELOR), a key piece of transport infrastructure connecting north and east Leeds to Junction 46 of the M1.  This road also unlocks land for the future construction of over 7,000 new homes on the East Leeds area.

The Award-winning development has been chosen for the new railway station ‘East Leeds Parkway’ and associated Park and Ride, connecting directly to Leeds City Centre in less than eight minutes.  This forms part of a £270 million infrastructure investment into Leeds by the Department of Transport.

 

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