The Echo Building’s transformation into a modern workspace

One of Bournemouth’s most iconic buildings is quietly being transformed into a state-of-the-art shared workspace complex.

Behind the instantly recognisable sandstone facade work has been underway in part of the listed Echo building on Richmond Hill for more than three years with a number of companies and individuals taking space as members.

Now planning consent has been granted to development company THAT Group for the creation of further office accommodation and facilities, under its sister brand THIS Workspace, which will lead to a substantial growth in commercial activity.

And part of the 1930s Art Deco structure is being retained as the home for the Daily Echo editorial and commercial teams.

Most Echo staff moved out to work from home at the beginning of pandemic.

But they are due to return soon to a newly refurbished suite of offices to continue print and digital operations.

It will continue to be known as the Echo Building.

Danny Hazlehurst, Development Executive at THAT Group, said it was “the next evolution of the building and the business”.

“This is the next stage of what is a major investment in the building and the town centre by THAT Group,” said Danny.

“We are expanding at a pace now and this will be a fantastic facility for Bournemouth just at the time when many businesses, large and small are looking at more flexible, more imaginative and more sustainable ways of working.”

The debate over the future of town centres includes the idea of more people living in them and working there too.

And the pandemic has forced many employers to ask themselves whether they really need large areas of expensive office space.

“For many firms it may be that highly quality shared workspace in a great environment and with all the facilities right there in situ is the way forward,” said Danny.

“As we come out of the pandemic, we may find this is one of the great changes in commercial life. In fact we are already seeing that happen. The environment we have created at the Echo building was forward thinking when the project commenced and the market has definitely moved towards us since the arrival of Covid.

The new planning consent from BCP Council includes the removal of a number of dilapidated roof structures which will be replaced with modern, purpose-built privates offices with roof terraces. Internally THAT Group’s refurbishment of the existing building will expand into space being vacated by Newsquest.

New facilities will include mixed café/bar, screening room and gym and cycle store.

As well as private and shared office space across the four floors there will also be break-out areas and meeting and training rooms.

Vincent Boni, the managing director of Newsquest Dorset and Hampshire, publisher of the Daily Echo, said: “The editorial and LOCALiQ teams cannot wait to get back into the new offices.

“Being in the centre of town again within a totally refurbished building will be a real treat for our journalists and commercial staff.

“And we will have the latest technology in a series of presentation suites to showcase the local success stories of individual clients and businesses in their digital marketing journey.

“The emphasis is upon customer experience and the office is designed to make interaction with our brands easy and creative.”

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