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Bank job attracts interest

CONTRACTS - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE

THREE contractors are banking on landing a deal to build the new headquar ters of Nor thern Rock.

The bank, best known for mortgage lending, is based at Gosforth on the edge of Newcastle upon Tyne and is already carrying out a major redevelopment of its head office.

A new tower is planned as the centrepiece. Shepherd, Sir Robert McAlpine and Taylor Woodrow are all shortlisted for the £35 million job. The tower will be 10 storeys high and comprise 14,000 sq m of office space. It is replacing a 1960s tower block, which has been demolished.

A local source said: 'I think that people at Northern Rock were worried that the council was about to list the old building. I don't know why, as it was pretty grim-looking, but councils make strange decisions. So Northern Rock quickly got on with demolishing the tower and now there's just a big hole in the ground where the new one will be built.'

The scheme has been designed by architect Red Box Design as part of a masterplan for Northern Rock, which has a strong history with the city dating back to the 1850s. Previous phases were carried out in 1986 and 1992.

Laing O'Rourke has offices just around the corner from the site but decided not to bid for the job. A source at one shortlisted contractor said: 'It's a shame that Laing O'Rourke didn't go for it in a way, as it would have been sweeter to beat them to the deal than any of the others.

'It's always nice to get a job that is right in your rival's face. HBG did a load of work outside Sir Rober t McAlpine's offices which was a bit too close for comfort for some at McAlpine.

'And Sir Robert McAlpine did the same to Shepherd when they did a load of work at York racecourse, which is right next to Shepherd's headquarters.

I suppose at least we avoid O'Rourke's rock-bottom prices.' The three firms have until April 24 to submit their bids.