Eversheds Sutherland handles 'dream project' to modernise government real estate portfolio

Eversheds Sutherland is acting for the UK Government on a major project to rationalise and modernise its property portfolio, encompassing deals covering more than one million sq ft of real estate.

The ‘Hub’ programme is aiming to reduce the government’s estate from about 800 buildings to 200 by 2023, saving approximately £2.4bn over 10 years.

Eversheds won a competitive tender last year to advise on the project, which involves consolidating different government agencies in ‘hub’ buildings in regional cities and moving some civil servants out of expensive central London offices to locations such as Croydon and Canary Wharf.

The firm has already advised the government on nine completed deals in Belfast, Bristol, Canary Wharf, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds, Croydon and Birmingham. There are projected to be between 18 and 22 ‘hub’ buildings by the end of the project.

The Eversheds team is being led by corporate real estate head Helen Thomas (pictured above) and also includes real estate partners George Bacon, Nefydd Jones, Meg Heppel, James Trafford, Sean Greene, Kevin Booth and Hazel Tait.

Speaking to Legal Week, Thomas said: “This is a dream project – hundreds of thousands of square feet of new buildings right across the UK in all the major regions. These are flagship projects, which in a number of cases are the biggest deals that have happened in the local market for decades.”

Other law firms to have advised on completed hub projects include Addleshaw Goddard, which advised developer MEPC on the 378,000 sq ft Wellington Place building in Leeds, which will house one of HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) 13 regional offices and serve as the new base for NHS Digital. Real estate partners Peter Kershaw and Justine Delroy led the firm’s team on the deal.

Pinsent Masons and Squire Patton Boggs, meanwhile, both acted on a recent deal that saw the government take a 25-year lease for 238,988 sq ft at Birmingham’s 3 Arena Central which will house 3,600 civil servants from HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Pinsents Birmingham real estate partners Tom Johnson and Lisa Middleton have been acting for Arena Central Developments, while Squire is leading for Birmingham City Council on the deal with Birmingham real estate partner Victoria Camfield heading up the firm’s team.