£10m refurbishment of Walker Morris’ new Leeds offices complete

The first phase of the £10 million refurbishment of 33 Wellington Place in Leeds, the new offices of law firm Walker Morris, has been completed.

Walker Morris will be moving into the 76,000 sq ft building this summer, once their fit-out has been carried out with all its staff relocating from nearby Kings Court and Bank House in King Street.

Once fully completed the refurbished offices will provide a state-of-the-art working environment for Walker Morris with improved sustainability credentials including cycle and shower facilities and a unique 11,700 sq ft podium garden area to the rear.

The Leeds office of global property consultancy Knight Frank worked in conjunction with a high-quality Yorkshire project team including Principal Contractor, GMI Construction Group, Project Manager, Richard Boothroyd & Associates, and Architect, DLG Architects.

Continuing the Yorkshire theme, Walker Morris were represented by leading Leeds-based property consultancy Fox Lloyd Jones.

A comprehensive programme of refurbishment was undertaken by the team as part of the first phase works which included most notably the transformation of the entire façade, remodelling of the building entrances and a reconfiguration and refit of the core areas.

The team aimed to create the perfect working and leisure environment for law firm Walker Morris, who have taken the whole of the building on a 15-year lease in the largest pre-let office deal in Leeds in 16 years.

The property, which was bought by Knight Frank Investment Management for Lancashire County Council Pension Fund from MEPC in 2010 for £20 million, was occupied by PWC for 20 years before PWC moved to new headquarters in the city at Central Square in October 2016.

Eamon Fox, partner and head of office agency at Knight Frank in Leeds, who advised KFIM, commented: “The property is a flagship office building in a superb city centre location and it is fitting it is now home to one of Yorkshire’s finest law firms.

“We have worked on plans to comprehensively remodel and refurbish the interior for the past three years and the results are spectacular and magnificent. We have created open plan, state-of-the-art offices, fit for the modern working practices of the 21st century.”

John Styles, Partner, Knight Frank Investment Management LLP, said: “We are delighted to have completed the refurbishment of this asset with the help of a first class professional team. The pre-let to Walker Morris significantly de-risked the project and the returns generated for Lancashire County Pension Fund demonstrate the benefits of actively managing refurbishment and re-letting risk at lease expiry as opposed to exiting investments when they become non-income-producing.”

Tom Ward, Director at Richard Boothroyd & Associates, explained: “It has been fantastic to be involved in the reinvigoration of such a prominent Leeds building as 33 Wellington Street. The completion of work on site is the culmination of many months of hard work by a large number of parties and now the first phase of the refurbishment is completed, the scheme offers truly outstanding accommodation for the whole Walker Morris team. The collaborative working between the respective landlord and tenant teams has been truly exceptional throughout the process.”

Andy Bruce, Managing Director, GMI Construction Group added: “We have been delighted to be part of this exciting project. We have enjoyed working with the team to transform this flagship office building and bring it back to life. The results are superb.”

Malcolm Simpson, Managing Partner of Walker Morris, commented: “It is a very exciting time for the firm and we are all looking forward to the new ways of working that the building will make available to us. The move will be a fantastic opportunity to have a state of the art, fully agile working environment here in Leeds from which all of our 500 strong team can support our local, national and international clients.”