Ascentis renews lease on office premises as government readies its ‘back to work’ campaign for launch

Published by Scott Challinor on August 31st 2020, 6:02am

The Derwent Group has this month completed a £300,000 refurbishment project at Lancaster Business Park’s office space, prompting Ascentis, one of its current occupants, to renew its lease on its premises there.

Founded in 1975, Ascentis is one of the UK’s leading educational charities, and transforms the lives of around 170,000 people every year through its range of qualifications and specialist software. It works closely with colleges, schools, independent training organisations and universities to design cutting-edge qualifications to enable people to progress to further study, higher education and employment.

The four-month refurbishment project at Lancaster Business Park’s three-storey Building 11 included works on the roof of the building, its exterior, entrance lobby and communal areas, as well as dividing first floor space into two office suites.

The project was aimed at making the space appeal to other SMEs and start-up businesses local to the Lancaster area.

As of August 18, Lancaster Business Park had 15,000 square feet of vacant space available, ranging from 1,200 square feet spaces to 5,000 square feet.

The Derwent Group responsible for the refurbishment forms part of the Albert Gubay Charitable Foundation and operates in the retail, leisure, industrial and commercial sectors. It owns and manages 2.8 million square feet of commercial property including 1.7 million square feet of retail and leisure space.

The Derwent Group’s senior asset manager, Andrew Day, commented: “We know that occupiers in the Lancaster area are typically seeking high quality space in the sub 5,000 square foot size bracket, so we wanted to meet that need by reconfiguring the available space in Building 11 and making it appropriate for smaller occupiers.

“The refurbishment has brought the building in line with current market demand and thanks to its strong location close to junction 34 of the M6, direct parking and plenty of amenities on site, we expect this to be a popular choice for local businesses.”

Ascentis is not the only business in the space to have renewed its lease, with neighbouring NFU Mutual agreeing to a ten-year extension on the lease for its dedicated area.

Ascentis’ lease renewal comes as the government is poised to launch a major campaign to encourage British employees back to their offices this week.

Its publicity campaign will push the “emotional case” for returning to work, highlighting the mental health benefits of mixing with colleagues.

As part of the measures, employers will be asked to stress that the risks of returning to workplaces are minimal, while a new online tool will help commuters avoid the most crowded trains and buses to further reduce the possibility of Covid-19 transmission.

The campaign is being launched alongside the reopening of schools in England and Wales to encourage more parents to return.

The move comes even though nine in ten UK employees who have worked from home during lockdown have expressed a preference to continue doing so in some form, according to a survey.

But chancellor Rishi Sunak is reported to be concerned about the possibility of further redundancies in city and town centre businesses that rely on commuters and workers for trade, including gyms, pubs, cafes and sandwich shops, as well as the costs of running public transport when trains and buses are nearly empty.

Google Mobility data has also shown that British workers have been slow to return to their places of work since being told it was safe to do so, compared to their European counterparts.

The Telegraph quoted a government source as saying: “People need to understand that working from home is not the benign option it seems. We need workers to be alert to what decisions their bosses may take in the weeks ahead. If they are only seeing workers once a fortnight then that could prove problematic for some employees in the future.

“We want employees to be careful what working arrangements they accept. Suddenly the word ‘restructure’ is bandied about and people who have been working from home find themselves in the most vulnerable position.”

Photo by Mario Gogh on Unsplash

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Authored By

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
August 31st 2020, 6:02am

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