Award for sympathetic refurb of union HQ

The excellence of the specialist work done by Northern Bear Building Services has again been recognised. Lifton House, the historic home of the GMB union in Newcastle, has won Refit/Refurbishment of the Year in the 2020 North East Property Awards. Northern Bear is named as the principal contractor.

The brief for the £2.1m project was to preserve the historic intent of Lifton House, a late Victorian villa, whilst enhancing the building to provide a modern workplace setting and exemplary training facilities for the GMB.
Through full refurbishment and fit-out of the original building; demolition of the unsympathetic 1960s extension and creation of a new reception area and arrival space, the project team breathed new life into the building. On completion, it provided an inspirational workspace and exemplary training facilities for GMB employees.

The GMB required a combination of cellular office accommodation, open plan office and flexible training facilities. To achieve this, the project team needed to understand the significance of the existing structures and making sure no damage was made to these. The resultant design preserved the best features of the building whilst adapting it to suit the needs of the occupier.

The Lifton House project team comprised: Northern Bear (principal contractor); SW Architecture (architect, interior designer and project administrator); Sanderson Weatherall LLP (cost consultant and agent); Aecom (heritage consultant); Kyoob (M&E Consultant); Jasper Kerr (structural engineer); MKT Consult (furniture consultant); Dunelm (geotechnical and environmental consultant); WYG (planning consultant); SAJ (transport consultant); Eco North (arboricultural and ecological consultant); and Stroma (Building Control).

The North East Property Awards judges said: “This was a scheme that needed to preserve the historic intent of the building while providing a modern workplace setting and this was achieved extremely well. This required understanding complex structures to preserve the best features of the building, marking this out as an exemplary refurbishment.”

Neil Jukes, managing director of Northern Bear Building Services, said: “This was very satisfying project which has breathed new life into an historic old building that had been neglected. Winning this award is welcome recognition for the hard work and expertise of everyone involved.”