Construction for York City Council’s new offices (West Offices), which will become their new civic headquarters and Customer Centre, is well underway as the process has now reached the halfway mark.
Construction on the commercial property is in the hands of York Investors LLP and Miller Construction. Building work commenced in January 2011 and is expected to be completed in September of this year, with the office moved planned for March 2013. Speaking of the progress made, Councillor James Alexander, said: “I’m delighted at the progress being made at West Offices. This continues to be an exciting project that will bring real benefits and cost savings for the people of York.”
To celebrate reaching the halfway point, Miller Construction, York Investors LLP and the City of York Council participated in a traditional ‘Topping Out’ ceremony. The tradition, which dates back 500 years, involves adding corn, oil, salt, wine and a Yew branch to a brick mould. Once set, the mould will be used in the building process. Speaking of the ceremony, Chris Webster, Chief Executive of Miller Construction, stated: “We are delighted to be able to mark the continuous progress being made at West Offices and are enjoying our on-going relationship with City of York Council which will see the delivery of the finished building next autumn.”
The site which West Offices is being built on was formerly York’s first ever railway. The design of the new office complex has utilised some of the original history of the site into the modern design, as Sandy Smith, Director of Buccleuch Property, one of the developers behind the project, stated: “Once completed the new HQ will provide the benchmark for bringing older buildings back into sustainable use.”
The new headquarters will compress the amount of commercial properties that York City Council currently works in – enabling them to work more closely with their partners. The council are already in talks with the police, health and voluntary sector about sharing and utilising their modern office space.
“The move to the new building will not only save council tax payers at least £17m over the next 25 years, but will also enable us to work more efficiently and effectively, providing a one-stop-shop for customers wanting to access council services.
“The initiative and will see the council move from 16 buildings to just four,” as Mr Alexander stated.
So what will happen to the surplus commercial properties in York that the council no longer need? The council are hoping that the remaining buildings will be restored and utilised in a more appropriate way. But this will not happen quickly and so the buildings could be left unoccupied until relevant tenants are found.