Ellandi’s new co-working space makes use of redundant retail units

Posted by Property Week on 18th Jul 2018

Ellandi has come up with a novel way to deal with redundant retail space at its Marlands Shopping Centre in Southampton – and to cater for growing demand for space to satisfy digital start-ups at the same time.


In partnership with Southampton City Council, the community shopping centre investor will repurpose 12,500 sq ft of vacant space on the second floor of the centre and turn it into a co-working space called Network.


Ellandi is carrying out enabling works and expects to hand the unit over to the council – which has invested £1.5m in the project – later this year. The council will fit out the workspace and aims to open it for business in early 2019.


“There is a lot of preparatory work [to be done] including creating lifts, stairwells and windows so it presents properly and is a space people will want to spend time in,” says Ellandi asset management director Jonathan Robson.


The site, occupying part of the former Dunnes department store, is well located in the city centre close to the train station and other transport hubs and will create space to nurture new and growing businesses as well as to cater for some of the city’s 40,000 graduates.


The co-working space will also help to bring additional footfall into Marlands Shopping Centre, which has a ‘grab-and-go’ value offering, says Robson. “We see great synergies [between Network and the retail component of the centre]. The people who use the workspace will also spend in the shops and on food and coffee on their lunch breaks.”


He adds: “This project is a great example of how landlords can work closely with local authorities to repurpose retail accommodation within shopping centres that are perfectly located in the heart of city centres.


“We are excited about it. It is a groundbreaking example of what will need to happen across the country in community shopping centres where there is obsolete retail space, which won’t be re-let for traditional retail.”


Natural fit

When it came to devising a use for the redundant space at Marlands, co-working was a natural fit. According to Denise Edghill, associate director at Southampton City Council, there is a growing need for flexible workspace in the city. “We have a science park on the edge of the city but that is filling up and is not what everyone is looking for,” she says. “Network will be close to the thriving city centre, which is where people want to be.”


Nella Pang, associate director in JLL’s Southampton office, adds that while the city has been well supplied with serviced offices, it lacks the co-working space that companies in the local tech sector are looking for.


However, other examples are now starting to come through, such as the White Building, which includes serviced studio space and communal, breakout and co-working space.


“This is impacting the investment side,” says Pang. “We’re seeing office investors in the region adapting their business models to allow for flexible floor areas, collaborative working areas and flexible lease terms to meet this growing demand.”


With a digital technology industry estimated to be worth £2.1bn and employing nearly 30,000 people in the city, there is a clear need for the right type of space to enable the tech sector to continue to grow at the rapid pace of recent years. And against a backdrop of retail failures, Ellandi and Southampton City Council’s Network will kill two birds with one stone.

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