Comment: Out-of-town sites offer greener living for workers

It's inevitable that businesses are looking for alternatives to the city centre, says Guy Marsden of Highbridge Properties. Picture: Contributed
It's inevitable that businesses are looking for alternatives to the city centre, says Guy Marsden of Highbridge Properties. Picture: Contributed
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There’s no doubt that Glasgow is a fantastic city. In fact, last year Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey named it as one of the best cities in the world to live in, beating Rome, Prague and Dubai thanks to offering an outstanding quality of life, arts and culture, nightlife and outdoor activities.

So, Glasgow is an attractive place to live, but the vast majority of the city’s large and skilled workforce do not live in the very centre. It makes perfect sense, therefore, to locate a business somewhere that’s closer to most of its working population.

When you consider that only two percent of the existing Grade A office accommodation in Glasgow city centre is currently available, it’s inevitable that businesses have begun to look around for alternative locations. When they do, they discover that occupational costs can be around one third cheaper in out-of-town business parks than they are in city centres. But, that’s not the only reason to look elsewhere.

I strongly believe that regeneration areas on the edge of cities – close to the commuter suburbs and towns where most workers live – offer businesses a myriad of advantages.

For instance, the new office park we are currently developing in partnership with Clyde Gateway, Magenta, is an example of a well-connected location on the periphery of a city. Clyde Gateway has a workforce of 1.5 million within a 60-minute commute, as trains from the new and improved Dalmarnock station can have someone in Glasgow city centre in a few minutes, and directly serve the Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire commuter towns. The motorway network is also right on the doorstep.

Importantly, the location is sustainable, as it is situated in the heart of an area where a revival is in full swing. The Clyde Gateway regeneration area has attracted 5,000 jobs in the past ten years alone, as more and more people are choosing to live and work on the edge of the city. There are already 2,500 new homes in the vicinity, like the Athletes’ Village, with thousands more either under construction or already planned. Along with the new schools and public open spaces being created, this will result in a new community: a workforce who are living right on the doorstep, able to walk, jog or cycle to the office.

More than half of the office space Magenta has to offer is already pre-let. The first tenant to sign up, property management firm Speirs Gumley, has shown how forward-thinking it is by relocating from existing premises in the heart of the city centre. It expects the move to boost the company’s productivity and make it easier for its employees to get to work, especially for the staff members whose roles involve travelling to appointments by car to meet their clients.

Being happy and healthy at work is increasingly becoming an influential factor for employees when choosing which company they want to work for, while staff welfare is now a critical consideration for employers, too. Being located within walking or cycling distance of most of your workforce is likely to reduce reliance on cars for commuting, thus freeing up parking space for those whose vehicles are vital for their job.

Newer office parks, with their focus on sustainability and eco-friendly credentials, are more likely to offer the use of facilities such as showers and bike storage for staff who cycle, run or walk to work. Magenta also benefits from the proximity of sporting facilities in the area and the newly opened 37 acres of wild natural space at the Cuningar Loop woodland park.

Peripheral business locations like Magenta offer an unparalleled opportunity for social, economic and physical regeneration by creating sustainable new communities where people work, as well as live. Instead of bringing people to the jobs, we’re bringing jobs to the people.

Guy Marsden, director, Highbridge Properties.