Work to transform the former head office of Newcastle Building Society has commenced this week as part of a multi-million-pound redevelopment plan.

Situated on Blue Square opposite the Laing Art Gallery and City Library, the building had been the home of Newcastle Building Society for over 25 years.

The news follows the appointment of national office fit out specialists Ultimate Commercial Interiors, which has an office in Gateshead, to begin the strip-out of Portland House.

The move is part of a strategic investment by developers James Keegan and Oliver Holland to create 60,000 sq. ft. of modern workspace in the heart of the city and revitalise the 1990s-built five-storey building.

Portland House has been designed with productivity, sustainability and personal wellbeing at its core.  A key aspect of the project is the creation of a functional, sustainable building designed to lessen the impact on the environment with a low carbon footprint. A new look interior will feature eco-friendly lighting, water-saving shower and toilet facilities and carbon neutral flooring along with anti-viral and air purifying paint and special technology to remove toxins and improve air quality for occupiers.

Electric charge points for vehicles and e-bikes along with a secure cycle storage and repair facility, will also be available onsite as part of the extensive commitment to providing an office which minimises its environmental impact and provides for the wellbeing of its users.

A new modern reception area is part of a package of improvements that will see the conversion of a central 3,000 sq. ft. Grade II listed structure into meeting areas and communal space.

Upwards of 600 office roles will be accommodated as businesses move in following completion of the project in March 2022, while dozens of new construction jobs will be created during the refurbishment phase over the next five months.

Oliver Holland said: “We are committed to using the latest technology and best materials to ensure the new look building has a sustainable focus and delivers a low carbon footprint. This will ultimately contribute to ensuring its long-term viability.”

“Ultimate’s quality and attention to detail impressed us, particularly their processes to ensure that the refurbishment phase will have as little environmental impact as possible.”

Steve Cowley, associate director at Ultimate Commercial Interiors, said: “We’re delighted to be involved in this prestigious city centre project.

“The space will offer a dynamic and contemporary interior within a listed building, with the aim of retaining the architectural details while creating an innovative, vibrant space. This creates an inviting working environment, which has plenty of functionality in different forms to provide unique working experiences.”

Marketing of the scheme is well underway with commercial property agents Sanderson Weatherall and BNP Paribas Real Estate already reporting strong interest from potential occupiers.

The refurbishment of Portland House is a key component of the East Pilgrim Street development framework. The major regeneration project will deliver a significant quantum of new office, residential and retail space as well as extensive public realm improvements in the coming years.