Landmark success helped by Ward Hadaway | 08 January 10

LAW firm Ward Hadaway has played a key role in the acquisition of a landmark development by Newcastle City Council.

The firm, which has offices in Newcastle and Leeds, provided construction and tax advice to the council on the purchase of the former Northern Rock Tower in Gosforth, Newcastle.

The ten-storey development was originally earmarked to house 1,500 Northern Rock employees.

However, during the building’s construction, the Newcastle-based mortgage bank collapsed and had to be rescued by the Government, leaving its expansion plans unfulfilled.

Newcastle City Council stepped in to buy the Tower – completed in November 2008 at a cost of £30m to Northern Rock – to lease the whole building to eco-services group eaga plc who in turn have re-let one floor back to the Council and one and a half floors to the Family Health Service Authority.

This initiative brings significant economic benefits to the city in terms of the creation of several hundred new jobs and the beneficial occupation of this new office block.

Partnership House will also accommodate employees from the Real Partnership, a joint venture company set up between the Council and eaga plc.

The Real Partnership aims to become a £45m turnover business and will specialise in providing services to the public sector including payroll, benefits, Council Tax payments, IT and customer services.

The Tower has been renamed Partnership House and will be home to more than 1,500 staff across its 120,000 sq ft of space.

Ward Hadaway provided a range of advice to Newcastle City Council on the acquisition of Partnership House, particularly on the construction aspects of the deal.

Ralph Wrighton, partner and head of construction, led the firm’s team advising the council.

Ralph said: “We were delighted to assist Newcastle City Council on what is a very important acquisition for the authority.

“Because of the history of the development of Partnership House, there were a number of important issues which had to be resolved before the acquisition was finalised.

“This involved a lot of hard work from our team at Ward Hadaway, particularly those in the construction unit, to ensure that the purchase of Partnership House could go ahead.

“We worked very closely with the in-house property and legal team at the City Council, who themselves worked extremely diligently to ensure the right result for the authority.

“We wish Newcastle City Council and eaga plc and all the employees of the Real Partnership all the best for their new home.”

As well as experts in construction law, Ward Hadaway’s team also provided advice on taxation issues associated with the acquisition of Partnership House.

Nick Rowley, Head of Property Services from Newcastle City Council, said: “The acquisition of Partnership House is an excellent commercial deal for the taxpayers of the city and a sound investment which will retain and create jobs in the area.

“We are very grateful to Ward Hadaway for all their assistance and advice on the acquisition.

“They performed a highly valuable service in an efficient and professional manner and always ensured we were kept fully up to date with progress throughout the deal.”

Ward Hadaway’s construction team has advised on a number of major developments across the country with its expertise sought for a variety of schemes in sectors including process engineering, commercial property, housebuilding, retail, local authority and major publicly funded developments.

Head of the team Ralph Wrighton has been described by independent legal guides as possessing “a glowing reputation for his deep knowledge of the industry” and as being praised for his “public sector expertise”.

* Find out more about our Construction services.