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Councillors to discuss future move to Victoria Centre
A future council relocation to the Victoria Centre is to be discussed by the council’s cabinet next week (Tuesday 8th November, item 12).
In the report to councillors, officers recommend agreeing the principle of moving its headquarters from the Civic Centre to The Victoria Centre in the coming years. This would release the Civic campus for development and regeneration and allow the council to consolidate its main operations into one city centre location.
The move could initially see some staff move back into the Civic Centre from other buildings such as Civic 2 – making initial savings and allowing the council to know exactly how much space it would need at The Victoria Centre. In the early 2010’s, the council left Queensway House, 93-99 Southchurch Road and 283 London Road which saves the council £1m a year.
The recommendation builds on the success of The Victoria Centre, which has seen a variety of diverse businesses open since the council bought the centre in December 2020 and is already proving to be self-financing and providing an income stream for the council. New tenants and uses including Indirock, the NHS Blood Centre, Cookies & Cones, SpyMissions, Brook Health, Mossy’s Shoes and Gourmet Burger. Existing tenants including Peacocks, Deichmann, Warren James and Subway have also been secured through lease renewals. Several other new lettings and lease renewals are currently progressing and are in solicitors’ hands.
Cllr Paul Collins, cabinet member for asset management and inward investment, says: “With the further advent of technology, global changes to working arrangements and the financial challenge we face, it is clear that the Civic Centre and Civic 2 are no longer efficient buildings for the Council to use in the long-term.
“Rapid increases in energy prices have seen the electricity bill for the Civic Centre almost treble to over £800,000 over the last 3 years and it is by far the Council’s highest carbon-producing building. As all councils do, we face significant financial challenges and are committed to tackling climate change, so this is an exciting project that would save us significant sums in the medium to long term but also build on the success of The Victoria Centre and see a new Council HQ right in the heart of the City Centre that is more appropriately sized and more accessible for citizens.
“Moving the council’s HQ to a smaller and more appropriate space at the Victoria Centre has been discussed since we bought the centre in late 2020, and so I am pleased to see this report recommending the principles and route for us to do this.”
Cabinet are also being asked to agree that a budget of £250,000 is used to support the next stages of work and enable the ideas and plans to be developed and move forwards. This budget will be paid back through savings made by the eventual move and capital receipts from any land sold.
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