4 September 2013

Selling council HQ could pay for investment in efficiency

Brighton & Hove City Council’s headquarters Kings House could be sold in proposals to improve the way the council works while delivering big savings to invest in efficiency measures.

A new report says selling the building, valued at an estimated £9m, would raise funds for better IT systems, energy efficiency and digital communication.

It would also help reduce the authority’s property portfolio costs.

The change is being proposed under phase three of the ‘Workstyles’ project that looks at modernising the council’s business.

The authority aims to change the way it works to improve customer access and service delivery, make best use of office space, save money and cut its carbon footprint.

A new council report on the matter is being discussed at the Policy and Resources committee on September 12th 2013.

Three options have been considered.  The preferred ‘Option A’ involves selling Kings House to complete the Workstyles programme.

It would include refurbishing outdated offices at Hove Town Hall to modern standards and equipping them with modern technology.  Empty space in the building would become offices.  Around a quarter of the building would also be released for commercial use which would generate further income for service improvements and smarter working methods.

It is estimated the changes could save approximately £700k per year in running costs.  If sold, Kings House is thought to be suitable for housing, subject to planning permission.  It would include both private and social housing.  Among benefits to the city would be an injection of almost £2m of government New Homes Bonus Funding over six years.

Councillor Leo Littman, lead member for Finance said;

“This proposal to move offices will help modernise the council and allow us to better serve the needs of the community. It will allow us to deliver services more efficiently, and make better use of our buildings. Combining this move with the more effective use of technology it will make possible; will save money.

"Not only will this benefit the people of the city; it will also give our staff extra flexibility; allowing them to achieve a better work/life balance. It will also help to improve energy efficiency.”

Kings House is on the seafront at the bottom of Grand Avenue, Hove.