Wood Pottery: From Concept to Community
Woods Pottery is a site located in Ouseburn, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, an area with a buzzing young community of start-ups, established SME businesses and a vibrant arts scene.
In 2005, North East Workspace (NEWS) undertook a major development project in the area, which would become Wood’s Pottery, converting a derelict Victorian Pottery in a conservation area and a second derelict property into commercial lets. The development received awards for “Best Refurbishment” and “Lord Mayor’s Special Regeneration” at the Newcastle Lord Mayor’s Design Awards.
Whilst developing the Woods Pottery site and planning its commercial offer, the local context was given priority. The objective was to develop commercial office lets that would provide a supportive environment for start-ups and SMEs and to make a positive contribution to the local infrastructure and community. Conservation of the properties was achieved at every possible opportunity, delivered to a high standard, respecting the historic and local aesthetic and environmentally conscious. In response to its location within such a vibrant arts community and the high-performance digital infrastructure available via NEWS, Woods Pottery targeted creative industry businesses as tenants.
Tenants of Woods Pottery benefit from a fully managed property, with services including building maintenance, security, 24-hour secure parking, a cycle centre with shower facilities, access to the sites managed communal spaces and communications infrastructure and general support requests. Tenants also have access to the business support of the PNE Group brand PNE Enterprise, which provides both digital and face-to-face business advice in a confidential, supportive environment from offices situated on NEWS property.
Existing services are maintained to a high standard, with new services or changes to services introduced in response to the expressed priorities of the tenant community and to meet the requirements of a competitive local market, ensuring businesses are enabled to meet and exceed the benchmarks set by their competition. At Woods Pottery examples of service developments have targeting prospective tenants specifically to contribute to an ‘incubator’ of similar businesses who could support one another, the installation of cost-cutting, eco-friendly LEDs across the site and an ongoing programme of upgrading rooms between tenancies to minimise disruption for tenants.
To cultivate the supportive environment required for a sustainable business and prosperous tenant community, significant investment is made in NEWS’s digital presence, including keeping an up-to-date, easy-to-use website, and print advertising specifically targeting start-up communities. One example of this is a long-term advertising contract with local, millennial magazine The Crack, who are a key player in the area’s creative SME community. The Crack are also tenants, and the positive relationship with this influential publication has created ambassadors for NEWS within our targeted audiences as well as giving a tenant business. In fact, the most successful strategy for driving tenancy levels at Woods Pottery has been word of mouth, from existing and past tenants, local businesses, local council referrals and the wider community thanks to the strong, positive presence we maintain in the area.
One USP of Woods Pottery, and all NEWS properties, is the approachable, accessible relationship the site management maintain with tenants. The workspace management are visible, proactive members of the tenant community, with an ‘open door’ office policy and ‘on call’ availability enabling tenants to engage with the team 08:00-17:00 Monday to Friday. Providing a flexible, friendly service, their role extends beyond that of ‘landlord’, incorporating the co-ordination of bought in services between tenants to minimise costs, promoting referrals for services between tenants to promote prosperity within the community and signposting business support and networking opportunities.
The second USP of Woods Pottery, and all NEWS properties, is the communications infrastructure tenants have access to. A superfast, reliable, 1GB internet connection provides a platform for a host of essential functions, such as backup strategies, hosted technologies, complex video conferencing and digital media. This empowers tenants to improve business performance and services, offers the possibility of developing new business models and operational savings and allowing tenants to operate complex data connections with the outside world. Maintenance and development are completed by a dedicated individual who is ‘on call’ to support tenants to overcome challenges and design the right communications infrastructure for their business.