Harrogate Borough Council

Report shows Harrogate civic centre office project was £2.5 million under budget

24 November 2020

The project to provide a new civic centre in Harrogate was under budget by £2.5 million.

A report being presented to a meeting of the cabinet next week sets out the final assessed costs of the project to consolidate office accommodation from five buildings to just one.

It shows the overall cost of constructing the civic centre to be £11,516,200.

Three buildings sold by the council:

  • Crescent Gardens                             £4,000,000
  • Victoria Park House                         £1,000,000
  • Scottsdale House                              £1,900,000

It is just £56,000 more than the original contract sum for the works and is in line with the fixed term contract that the council signed.

An additional budgeted £1,628,312 was spent on associated costs.

This includes professional design expertise and fitting-out the building with high-quality IT, video conferencing, break out rooms and furniture.

That means the overall cost of project was £13,144,512, slightly less than the original 2015 budget of £13.15 million.

However, the council sold its old offices which resulted in far greater income than planned.

When the sale of three office buildings* are taken into account, the net cost of the project is reduced to just £6.25 million.

This a whopping £2.47 million less than budgeted and represents a massive saving to the council tax payer of the Harrogate district.

In addition to this £2.47m, operating a modern building has enabled the council to make further annual operational savings of almost £1 million, achieved by moving from separate, old, and inefficient offices to the new civic centre.

It has taken longer than hoped to reach the final assessed account position because of the financial collapse earlier this year of the company which built civic centre.

HFC’s parent Harry Fairclough Limited went into compulsory administration in July.

At the time the council was still working with HFC to resolve a number of defects with the building which the firm was contractually obliged to fix.

As there is no realistic chance of those defects being corrected by HFC, cabinet will be asked to approve the appointment of a contractor to do the work.

This will be paid for using money the council retained as part of the overall project costs and are included in the financial summary being presented to cabinet.

It will meet to consider the office accommodation report at 5.30pm on 2 December.

Crescent Gardens, Harrogate
Crescent Gardens, Harrogate

Councillor Graham Swift, deputy leader and cabinet member with responsibility for resources, said:

Cabinet made a strong commitment to publishing the overall costs of the civic centre project, but this has not been possible before now while we worked with HFC to rectify several defects with the building that it was obliged to fix.

That was complicated by the contractor being put into administration earlier this year.

The fact that the office accommodation project is £2.5 million under budget is a great result for the council tax payer of the district.

Putting Covid-19 aside, if we had not embarked on this project, we would still be in five separate offices costing an additional £1m a year to run and requiring expensive and ongoing maintenance to make them habitable.

As it is, we have an amazing new civic centre which we can all be proud of, and we have achieved significant savings against the original overall budget in the process.

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