01 October 2012

A new purpose built office building would help save taxpayers millions of pounds and at the same time bring an extra £12m spending power into Northampton town centre according to a business case published today by Northamptonshire County Council.

The business case outlines how centralising county council staff out of an existing stock of 12 ageing buildings into one energy efficient building with a smaller total floor space would help avoid future building costs of up to £54m.

The report – which will be discussed by cabinet next week - goes on to outline how moving more than 2,000 staff into the town centre on the Angel Street site currently used for council staff parking would help boost town trade by £12m.

As part of the plans the council would look to move out of some of the existing stock of buildings in Northampton including John Dryden House, parts of the current County Hall, Riverside House and Century House.

Cabinet member responsible for the project Andrew Langley said: "Put bluntly we simply cannot afford to remain in our ageing stock of buildings. The 12 buildings affected by this project cost £53,000 a week on running costs alone.

"What this business case shows very clearly is that a new 21st century building could be built on derelict land we already own, without putting one penny on council tax. This would be a building which would reduce our total floor space as an organisation, put our staff together to help lead to more efficient ways of working whilst also drastically reducing our energy and maintenance costs.

"The business case also shows very clearly that such a new development would bring an extra £12m spending power into the town centre over the next decade bringing a very real and tangible benefit to the town and therefore county as a whole."

As part of the work looking at how to reduce the council’s ever growing property energy and maintenance costs a number of other solutions were assessed ranging from consolidating staff into existing buildings, buying an existing building or remaining as we are.

All options were tested on economic grounds to make sure they provided best value for money; on effectiveness grounds to make sure front-line customer-facing access could be improved as well as the ability to utilise new technologies; on regeneration grounds to ensure any such project boosts regeneration and finally on carbon footprint grounds to ensure the given solution fulfils the council’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact.

After this appraisal it emerged that the preferred option would be to construct a new building on the council owned Angel Street site through a design and build competitive procurement process.

The outline business case shows such a new building would cost £43m to design and build.

The business case has been published as part of cabinet papers to be discussed by cabinet on Tuesday October 9.

If cabinet approve the paper work will start in putting together a detailed business case and to go out to tender for a design and build contractor to carry out the work.