Building infrastructure

Supporting innovation in Newcastle and the North East

Legal & General is proud to support Newcastle Helix, a ground-breaking project to redevelop a former coal mine and brewery into a centre of innovation.

29 Jun 2022

As part of our commitment to supporting the levelling up agenda in the UK, Legal & General has invested in Newcastle and its surrounding areas, creating more than 7,000 jobs and attracting talent from around the country.

The centrepiece of this investment is the Helix, a £350m innovation quarter in the centre of Newcastle. The project, which is collaboration between Legal & General, Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council, is the largest urban development of its kind in the UK outside London. It will deliver 4,000 new jobs and 700 new homes.

Helix is where business meets science. It’s a unique ecosystem of innovation, purpose-built to enable the commercialisation of new ideas and to act as a springboard for spin-out companies from the university.

Originally a coal mine, the site was later home to Scottish and Newcastle Brewery, which produced the iconic Newcastle Brown Ale. When the brewery closed in 2005, the city was faced with the loss of hundreds of jobs. Helix was conceived as a project that would continue the city’s proud tradition of innovation, as well as helping to secure its long-term growth and prosperity.

By investing older people’s pension savings into regeneration projects in parts of the country that were previously neglected, we’re aiming to create a virtuous circle that benefits all parts of society.

Sustainable spaces

Legal & General has invested £65m in funding two of the Helix’s main developments: The Lumen and The Spark.

The Lumen is the largest city centre office building with private sector funding to be built in the last decade. It offers more than 100,000 square feet of flexible, high quality office space, where international brands and pioneering start-up businesses can work side by side. The building is home to the government’s housing accelerator, Homes England, as well as the country’s first integrated Covid research hub. It has the potential to create more than 1,000 new jobs.

The Spark also has more than 100,000 square feet of Grade A office space, arranged over 12 floors with a roof terrace offering views across Newcastle. It offers a combination of private, exclusive occupancy offices and open collaboration space. In February 2021, the transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickson (WBD) announced it would be consolidating its presence in Newcastle and moving 450 staff into The Spark.

Towards net zero

In line with our commitment to reducing our carbon emissions, the buildings at Newcastle Helix have been designed with environmental impact at their core, all achieving a BREEAM rating of ‘excellent’ or better, indicating high sustainability.

The Spark and The Lumen are both connected to the District Energy Centre, a dedicated and centralised energy system for Helix that provides heating, cooling and a bespoke electricity supply to its buildings. The scheme, delivered in partnership with ENGIE, is forecast to save more than 30,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over the next 40 years, contributing towards the drive to net zero.

Supporting the North East

As well as Helix, Legal & General is also investing in other parts of the North East. In 2019, we committed £100m to Sunderland City Council’s redevelopment of the city’s riverside, including the regeneration of the former Vaux Brewery site to deliver new commercial and office space, along with a new Sunderland City Hall. The project is forecast to create more than 10,000 new jobs and drive economic growth in the region.

In 2020, we donated £5m to Newcastle City Council as part of a charitable partnership aimed to enhancing elderly care in the city. As well as funding additional independent living facilities for older people within The Helix, the donation is also being used to finance a “new model” prototype care home, which will pilot pioneering approaches to elderly care incorporating the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Going forward

Legal & General  plans to continue investing into Newcastle Helix which will create further jobs, more office space, and hundreds of new homes. The next will be a  build-to-rent project, which forms part of Legal & General’s partnership with Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council, comprised of two block buildings.