Gentian’s £3m refurbishment of city centre offices

OPENING: Trafalgar House in Winchester city centre is to be fully occupied for the first time in nearly a decade after a £3 million refurbishment. 

One of Winchester’s most prominent buildings is to be fully occupied for the first time in nearly a decade after a £3 million refurbishment.

Major construction firm Skanska has signed a 20-year lease on 15,000 sq ft of office space in the part-Grade II listed city centre Trafalgar House.

Gentian Development Group, which completed major refurbishment works, pre-let the four-storey building to Skanska at £30 per sq ft in one of the city’s biggest ever office lettings.

Goadsby and CBRE were letting agents.

Skanska, known for its Crossrail and Gherkin projects, was awarded a seven-year Hampshire County Council highways maintenance services contract last year and required a local base urgently.

Winchester-based Gentian director Nick Ekins said: “We have brought one of Winchester’s classic buildings back to life after it had lain empty and rundown for eight years.

“We have helped bring 150 jobs back into the city centre where quality office space is at a premium as demand continues to outstrip supply.

“Although we had planning consent to convert the building into 27 flats, early knowledge of Skanska’s requirements concentrated our minds on Grade A open plan offices and we had to work quickly to achieve the six-month completion target.”

Gentian acquired the mid-18th century Georgian town house – with a substantial 1970s extension – in 2016 and undertook the £3 million upgrade through specialist sub-contractor Loop Interiors.

The sympathetic refurbishment to restore Trafalgar House to its former glory complied with every conservation regulation and Loop employed traditional building methods where necessary, sometimes with as many as 40 workers on site as speed was of the essence.

Refurbishment of the building, overlooking the law courts and Great Hall, included the replacement of the roof, windows, lift and the installation of new air conditioning, raised floors, LED lighting, WCs and showers.

Trafalgar House, on Trafalgar Street, was previously home to the county council’s social services department before the authority sold it in 2010.

Gentian has retained ground floor office space in the building for its own headquarters and has submitted a planning application for an additional floor to satisfy the city’s requirement for more office space.

A decision from the city council’s planning department is still awaited.

Long term funding was provided by local relationship bank Handelsbanken.