Rates relief cut hasn’t helped Maxim says MSP

Maxim Office Park, Eurocentral
Maxim Office Park, Eurocentral

Developers struggling to attract industry to Scotland’s largest office park are now planning to build a football pitch and a gym on the site.

Maxim Office Park at Eurocentral, near Holytown, cost £330 million to develop, but many of the state of the art buildings are lying empty despite extensive marketing.

Now a planning application for an all-weather sports pitch and a pavilion has been submitted to North Lanarkshire Council.

These would be built on ground which had been set aside for a possible expansion of the office park.

However, expansion would seem unlikely as six of the original 10 office blocks are still available to let and there is space in three of the others.

Maxim insisted the pitch plan is a positive move designed to attract more firms as the sports facilities would be used primarily by staff.

They could, depending on demand, also be opened to other workers and the public.

Maxim was completed in 2010 as the largest ever speculative office development in Scotland. Its enterprise status means there are tax advantages for firms moving in and the modern setting includes a restaurant, shop, putting green and children’s nursery.

However, it has struggled to attract tenants and in 2011 was saved from financial ruin by a debt restructuring plan.

One major boost has been the arrival of 400 staff from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, but two years ago Central Scotland MSP Margaret Mitchell described occupancy rates as ‘depressingly low’.

Mrs Mitchell said the Scottish Government hadn’t helped ‘superb’ developments like Maxim by cutting rates relief on empty property.

This week the MSP backed the developers’ idea for sports facilities. She said: “If units aren’t occupied it makes sense to diversify. Let’s hope the new facilities attract more firms. The offices are excellent.”

Mrs Mitchell said the pitch plan should be seen as ‘positive’ and not a sign of desperation.

She added: “Maxim has been marketed aggressively and North Lanarkshire Council has bent over backwards to help, but by cutting rates relief the Scottish Government is just making life difficult.”

Maxim said: “The number of employees here is increasing steadily. The proposed sports facility shows continued investment and a commitment to ensuring the park thrives in the longer term.”