The first of two new office developments in Riverside Sunderland has secured its first occupier, ahead of the start of construction.

RSA Insurance (RSA), one of the UK’s largest general insurers, has signed a deal to relocate its customer services team to ‘Faber’, the first of two Legal & General-backed highly-sustainable offices that will be developed by Landid.

The insurer will take a lease on 38,000 sq ft of office space in the heart of the city centre, relocating from its current premises in Doxford International Business Park.

David Wilkinson, Site Leader at RSA in Sunderland, said: “We are delighted to have signed the lease for our new office in Sunderland, we’ve been operating in the region for many years and are looking forward to continuing to have a presence here.

“Throughout the business we operate a hybrid working model and consider high quality, modern office space to be a key component of this.

“We are looking forward to working with the developers and talking to our colleagues in Sunderland to ensure this new space offers a workplace that works effectively for them and us.”

Standing side-by-side with riverside views, Faber and a second larger building, Maker, developed as part of a £100m commitment from Legal & General, will target BREAAM excellence standards, with a focus on in-built sustainability.  They will open in 2024.

Riverside Sunderland

Mike Coplowe at Legal & General said: “We’re thrilled to have signed a deal with RSA, making them the first occupier of our two new buildings at Riverside Sunderland.

“This pre-let is hugely significant and further demonstrates confidence in the office market in Sunderland.

“Riverside Sunderland is a development that will trigger the economic resurgence of the city centre, and we’re pleased to be playing a part in that.”

Landid is bringing the development forward on behalf of Legal & General.

The Landid team was also involved in the development of Doxford International, which remains a popular business-hub some 30 years after construction.

Landid managing director, James Silver, said: “We’re developing two stunning buildings, that are not only game-changing for Sunderland but will enhance the North East commercial property market with their quality of design and sustainable credentials.

“It’s brilliant that the market has immediately responded and that Faber will become home to such a prestigious business, securing many jobs in the city.”

In total, Faber and Maker will provide 150,000 sq ft of Grade A office space, with both buildings being actively marketed by commercial property agent Knight Frank.

They will complement the nearby Beam, which is home to Ocado, Penshaw View and Asset55, as well as The Yard – the former Gilbridge Police Station – which is being converted into office spaces for smaller, growing businesses.

The developments are part of a Sunderland City Council-led vision to deliver more than 1m sq ft of office space across the Riverside Sunderland development, creating workspaces for up to 10,000 people.

Peter McIntyre, executive director of city development at Sunderland City Council, said: “As businesses compete to attract and retain the brightest talent, the quality of workspace they can offer – and the lifestyle offer surrounding that workspace – is absolutely paramount and that’s why Riverside Sunderland is important.

“It allows us to compete with other places and both secure and attract businesses to choose Sunderland.

“Our vision for Riverside Sunderland and the city centre is clear – more offices and homes in the heart of the city will bring people who will spend their money and support the economy in the area.  I’m delighted that this plan will soon bear fruit.”