Major law firm signs lease for new home in the heart of Leeds

A LEADING Yorkshire law firm will move to a new home next year, as the region’s property market recovers from one of the worst slumps in history.

Artiist's impession of Addleshaw Goddard's new offices in Leeds.

Addleshaw Goddard has become the latest big corporate name to announce that it plans to move to the Sovereign Square development in Leeds, which is based on the site of a former concert venue that once hosted rock legends like The Clash.

Addleshaws, which has been based in Leeds since 1775, will move its 400 Leeds-based staff from Sovereign House to the new Bruntwood and Kier Property building, at 3 Sovereign Square, in late 2016.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Addleshaws, which has signed a 17 and a half year lease, will take three of the five floors within the 93,240 sq ft Grade A building. At street level, 3 Sovereign Square will also have 10,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space, providing staff and clients with a range of amenities.

Addleshaw Goddards new headquarters in Sovereign Square will be built close to the site of the former music venue Queens Hall. The company has signed a 17-and-a-half-year lease on the building.

Addleshaws has been based in Sovereign House since 1997, but Tim Wheldon, the head of the firm’s Leeds office, said it was time to move on.

“Our current building has served us well, but the move to 3 Sovereign Square offers us the opportunity to plan for the requirements of our business, clients and people for the next 17 years,’’ he said. “It’s situated just across the road from where we are now, and the new building allows the firm to remain at the heart of the local business community.”

He added: “A refurbishment wasn’t going to work, much as we liked the existing building. The new building fits what we need very well.

“We did look at other locations, but we kept coming back to here. Most of us spend more time in the office than we do at home, so we’ve got to make sure that we get it right.”

The Sovereign Square development is close to the site of the Queens Hall concert venue, which used to stand on Sovereign Street.

The former tram depot was demolished in 1989 and replaced by a “temporary” car park that operated for more than 20 years. Mr Wheldon said the Sovereign Square site had been an old-fashioned blot on the landscape when he first moved to Leeds in the early 1990s.

“A pretty shabby car park has been turned into prime real estate,’’ he said. “It will be a ‘turn-key’ move; we will pack our bags and move across the road.”

Mr Wheldon was bullish about Leeds’ economic prospects.

He said: “We have got really good positive momentum, and there’s a recognition that, through collaboration, Leeds will do much better.”

Addleshaw Goddard can trace its Leeds roots back to the late 18th century, when Booth & Co was founded. In 1997, Addleshaw Sons & Latham merged with Booth & Co to become Addleshaw Booth & Co. Six years later, Addleshaw Booth & Co joined forces with Theodore Goddard to become Addleshaw Goddard.

Craig Burrow, the director at Bruntwood, added: “Having worked with Addleshaws for a number of months on this transaction, I’m delighted to announce our first pre-let at 3 Sovereign Square.

“This commitment demonstrates the strength of this commercial location, which is being improved by the addition of these buildings and the inclusion of the new public realm.”

Tom Gilman, a director for Kier Property, said: “This is a fantastic endorsement by Addleshaw on the quality and commercial strength of this building and will bring a first class occupier to a first class development.”

Later this year, professional services firm KPMG will move its 750 staff into a new HQ in One Sovereign Square. It is the first of a number of developments on Sovereign Street which aim to turn it into a vibrant hub.

In January, Muse Developments handed over the 60,000 sq ft office development to KPMG, who plan to move in by the autumn. David Wells, development director at Muse Developments, said at the time: “The completion of this landmark building is an important milestone.”