4 February 2015

Permission granted for Hove Town Hall efficiency move

Planning permission has been granted for works to expand office capacity at Hove Town Hall and radically improve its energy efficiency.

The move is part of modernising the council through flexible working using new technology, reducing accommodation costs and occupying fewer buildings.  When complete the project should save about £750,000 a year in accommodation costs.

It will make better use of the existing space within Hove Town Hall, helping to accommodate approximately 650 additional staff. 

The plan will mean the council can decant workers from its current HQ Kings House on Hove seafront, then sell the building which is currently being marketed. 

In the next five years the council needs to save over £100m out of its current £770m budget, due to cuts in funding from central government and rising costs.

From April 1, while works are underway, the planning committee will move to Portslade Town Hall for up to 18 months.  Meetings will be webcast via the council’s website.  A hearing loop and full disabled access will be available.

Key features of the Hove Town Hall plan are the creation of new floors within the central main area, conversion of redundant space into new offices, refurbishment of existing areas and formation of new meeting spaces.

The entire glass façade of the building will be replaced with energy-efficient double glazed units.  The roof will have new coverings and solar panels generating electricity. A new heating and ventilation system would further improve efficiency.

The front entrance would be altered to create a café for public and staff and bring a more lively frontage to the building.  There would be outdoor seating under a canopy, complementing the regular street food markets.  The façade above the entrance would be brought forward to create additional space.

In addition the Great Hall and its associated areas will be converted to retail on the ground floor.  New office space above would be let commercially to external organisations, improving income for the council.

Councillor in charge of property Ollie Sykes said:  “This is a plan to give taxpayers better value for money by using our space more efficiently.  It’s not ideal for many people that we’re having to move the planning committee to Portslade Town Hall.  But the choice was forced on us by a lack of regularly-available alternatives in central areas, particularly those with the required standards for disabled people.  On the plus side, I’m hoping it will see the council engaging more closely with the people of Portslade.”

Planning consent for Hove Town Hall was granted under powers delegated by the planning committee to council officers.  Details of the project were also approved by councillors on the policy and resources committee in 2014 and 2013.