Does Aviva move signal the end of the business parks?
- Credit: Archant
The news that Aviva will be closing two of its biggest offices in Norwich has prompted questions about what this means for the future of the region's business parks.
Aviva announced this week it would be quitting Willow House and the Horizon building at Broadland Business Park, moving 1,500 staff to its Surrey Street offices when they come back to work.
The insurance giant attributed the decision to focus on the city centre as a move to support local businesses on the high street, and could set a trend others follow.
Paul Swinney is the director of policy and research at the Centre for Cities, and said: "There’s a couple of reasons why businesses would want to be in the city centre instead of on a business park.
"The first is that having staff in a concentrated space which has a number of benefits – it largely comes down to creative collision between your staff.
"It also gives easier access to collaborators, businesses who are clients of each other and even competitors. That’s not only for convenience but also because you never know what you might pick up when you’re all in the same area.
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"We tend to see this in higher-skilled jobs like lawyers, software developers and financiers. Just look at Canary Wharf – businesses will pay the premium to be within an area that the industry is collaborating within instead of being dispersed across a business park."
He added: "On the flip side of this there are benefits to being on a business park – particularly for businesses like manufacturing which are land greedy and other companies which have lower-skilled staff.
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"Call centres for example, they’re working off a script and so that creative reflection you get off other people isn’t as necessary."
However other service businesses which have offices both on the high street and at business parks around the region say they remain committed to their office sites at this point.
Colin Fish, managing director at accountancy firm Lovewell Blake said: “At a time when some are questioning the future role of offices, we recognise the value of collaboration and team spirit which comes from having colleagues working together in a quality office environment.
"Our office has proven to be an asset – and like everybody else we look forward to the time when life can return to normal and all work from Broadland Business Park.”