North West Leicestershire District Council: Council office accommodation
This project is the council’s move into efficient, eco-friendly and well-located accommodation from its aging and failing building. It resulted in a Customer Centre in the heart of the town centre and back-office functions relocated into a renovated council-owned building.
In 2021, the council faced a question; whether to invest in its current council offices or seek alternative accommodation for its services elsewhere. The council’s offices were mainly a 1970s extension on an older building and were failing. To bring them up to modern standards, the roof, windows, lift and internal infrastructure needed significant work or replacement costing up to £7.8 million. Instead, the council decided to use a building it already owned to create office space, and to transform an empty retail unit in the town centre into a more accessible, modern Customer Centre.
The older part of the council offices is being refurbished and continues to hold committee meetings, the Registry Service and Citizens Advice, as well as some offices. Once the council offices are empty, the land will be sold on the open market.
The project has benefitted the council’s customers – it has brought face-to-face services into the heart of the town centre, bringing advice and support closer to people who need it most. This move has seen an increase in custom from people who have ‘popped in’.
Local businesses have also benefitted. The council hopes that, by locating itself in the town centre, this will have a positive impact on local retailers, as customers may use the shops, cafes and restaurants nearby when they visit the council offices.
There have been benefits for the council’s staff. The council is moving to an open plan shared workspace that encourages staff from different teams to work alongside each other as ‘one team, one council’. Embracing the council’s flexible working policy, which still supports most staff working from the location that most suits their day, the new offices will have a range of workspace options, including large team tables, hot desks and café style meeting spaces, as well as more traditional desks and meeting rooms.
The costs for this project total £4.3 million and reflects the use of buildings owned by the council. This does not take any account of the sale of any land or buildings, which will provide a capital receipt for the council. The running costs of the offices will reduce by around half as the council will be operating from much more modern and energy efficient buildings, and this will also contribute to the council’s zero carbon aims.