The insurance giant has told its staff that the business is to move to Parklands, the five-storey, 100,000 sq ft building at Alderley Park, which it is to buy from Bruntwood for an as yet undisclosed price.
Royal London’s future in Cheshire East had looked uncertain, with the firm struggling to expand at its base on the A34 between Wilmslow and Alderley Edge, and the news has been greeted with delight by the council.
Leader Rachel Bailey said: “This is excellent news and I wish to thank Royal London for demonstrating its faith in and loyalty to the borough by choosing to stay in Cheshire East.
“Royal London has recognised that our expanding economic base, together with the skills and talents of our working residents, combine to offer a sustainable and successful future for the company based in Cheshire East.”
Bruntwood said that far from reducing the focus on tech and science at Alderley Park, selling this building will allow it and Manchester Science Partnerships to redouble their efforts. A spokesman said: “Parklands was always zoned as offices as it sits outside the bioscience campus, and we still have over 1m sq ft of bioscience space where we are having considerable success having attracted over 50 new companies as well as funding the start up of s wide variety of new ones.
“The Royal London disposal helps fund the capital to repurpose the bioscience campus, and the running cost that we incur whilst letting it up as well as bringing additional footfall to ensure the world class conference, sports, hotel and leisure amenity on site are sustainable for both our customers at Alderley Park and the local residents.
“Bruntwood and MSP are more committed than ever that Alderley Park is an internationally significant bioscience campus driving the life science economy of the Northern Powerhouse.”
Royal London has become a hugely valuable employer in the area since moving out of Manchester city centre in the early 1980s, now employing more than 1,200 people at the Wilmslow site.
Following the relocation, the plan is for Royal London Asset Management to take forward a masterplan for the vacated site. Subject to planning, this could include mixed-use commercial, retail and housing opportunities with the potential, it said, to create a further 1,500 to 2,000 jobs. The move is expected to be completed by 2020.
Neil Kilshaw, head of group facilities and estate transformation at Royal London, said: “It has long been recognised by Royal London and by Cheshire East Council that our existing buildings in Wilmslow no longer meet the needs of a growing modern business like ours.
“We have thoroughly investigated a range of possible sites, including remaining at a redeveloped Wilmslow campus or moving out of the borough. Our exhaustive search has convinced us that Cheshire East and Parklands, at Alderley Park, is the best possible location for our business and our staff.”
Bailey added: “I wish to thank Cllr George Hayes, chairman of the Skills and Growth Company and its managing director Julian Cobley for the hard work they have put in to this matter.
“They will continue to work with Royal London through the relocation process and offer support to help the business thrive.”
Cllr Ainsley Arnold, cabinet member for housing and planning, said: “Not only do we see Royal London stay in Cheshire East, but we also have a golden opportunity here to generate new jobs, including specialist skills in financial and technical services.
“We look forward to seeing Royal London’s plans in more detail.”