North Yorkshire County Council is proposing to reduce the number of offices it uses in Northallerton in order to make further savings and to adapt its historic headquarters in the town to meet modern and more efficient working practices.
The Council estimates this rationalisation of its property would make a significant contribution towards the annual revenue savings target of £1.5 million and increase the efficiency with which its remaining properties are utilised.
The proposed property programme would lead to the sale of some offices and the demolition of others as well as additional car parking spaces.
The programme would also include further renovation and refurbishment of the grade II listed Brierley Building, which forms the heart of the County Council’s HQ, and which will be adapted to accommodate more staff through hot-desking, the creation of informal meeting spaces and other efficient and flexible working practices.
“We have been protecting our frontline services as best we can” said County Councillor Gareth Dadd, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance and Assets, “by creating a streamlined and modern workforce which best meets the needs of families, residents and stakeholders across the county and while also making necessary savings. As part of this we have been looking at how to use our office space most efficiently.
“We had already made the decision to retain and adapt County Hall as our administrative headquarters, rather than dispose of the building and re-locate to purpose built offices as other authorities and companies choose to do and which we estimated would have required £40-£50 million in investment.
“The current recommendations to go before the Executive amount to a fraction of that requirement – £5.8m – as the most cost-effective solution while making sound decisions about the rationalisation of our offices. We will be making the best use of space while also addressing the condition of County Hall, a building that has already stood for 100 years. This is about making savings so we can continue to invest in the front line.”
Next week’s Executive has been asked to approve the following proposals:
- The demolition of the ‘East Block’ office which due to its age and construction is beyond economical repair. This, along with the demolition of some temporary office units will make space for 120 additional parking places on the main HQ site .
- The creation of much needed additional parking places in this way will also avoid the immediate necessity of extending parking onto the adjoining former football field acquired by the County Council in 1976 but currently used as a recreational green space. The Council is also working to produce a county-wide travel plan which in part will seek to promote other forms of transport in order to reduce demand for car-parking on the campus;
- The disposal of 50 South Parade and Morgan House in Standard way, both in Northallerton;
- The remodelling of space within County Hall to create modern and flexible offices;
- Essential maintenance and refurbishment of County Hall including repairs to the roof, chimney stacks, and windows; rewiring; modernisation of heating to increase efficiency and updating of fire precaution works.
The cost of the proposals is estimated to be £5.8 million which includes around £2.5m for the rationalisation of buildings work and just over £3m for the essential maintenance and refurbishment of County Hall.
“Our intention through these proposals” added Cllr Dadd, “is to create the most cost-efficient fit-for-purpose administrative base for the County Council into the long-term . Should they get the go-ahead from the Executive next week we will begin a procurement exercise for a contractor in May for works to begin later in the year.”