Key moment as developers handover West Offices to City of York Council

10 Dec 2012 @ 5.47 pm
| News
The handover: Sandy Smith for Buccleuch, Anne Scott for S Harrison, Council Leader Cllr James Alexander, City of York Council chief executive Kersten England and Cllr Julie Gunnell. Photograph: City of York Council

Issued by City of York Council

City of York Council has today officially handed the keys to its new £32 million customer centre and headquarters at West Offices, which has been delivered on schedule and within budget.

Ann Scott of S Harrison and Sandy Smith of Buccleuch Property – the two development companies who together have created the new complex within the 1840s railway station – handed over the keys to the council’s chief executive Kersten England and Leader Cllr James Alexander.

It has taken just over 20 months to turn what was a run-down listed building into a modern, open plan and energy efficient offices from which the council will deliver and administer its services. When the building is fully occupied in March 2013 it will complete the council’s programme to reduce the number of its office buildings from 17 to just two.

Kersten England, Chief Executive of City of York Council, said: “It’s a fantastic achievement to deliver a complex building to such a high standard in this timescale and we are delighted with the result.

“Heritage groups have praised the scheme as a model for the sustainable regeneration of older buildings. We describe it as a model for co-operative working. The council’s own project team and the team from S Harrison and Buccleuch have worked together brilliantly to deliver such an impressive headquarters of which the whole city can be proud.”

For the council, work has already started on the fit-out of the building which will not only house the one-stop customer centre for residents’ services but also 1,400 of the council’s administrative staff.

Cllr James Alexander added: “This move, which has had cross party support from the start, will pay great dividends for the city and its residents.

“Not only will it help us realise significant cost-savings – more than £17 million over the next 25 years – but customers will be able to access more efficient, joined up services from one place. It also allows the council to lead the way in co-operative working with other public service organisations and partners in the city, several of which will be locating front and back office services in West Offices.”

An announcement about partners moving into West Offices is expected shortly.

Features of the new West Offices complex include:

·A BREEAM “excellent” rating – for the energy efficiency and sustainability of the building

·An EPC rating of B -which matches or betters the energy efficiency achieved by many new offices buildings in the UK, despite the fact that around 40 per cent of the West Offices building date from the Victorian era

·A historic railway canopy skilfully restored and relocated in full view from the city walls to the delight of railway and heritage groups

·An attractive new courtyard providing a public space via which visitors will access the customer centre.

The developers had to combine safeguarding the future of the Grade II* listed building with the council’s brief to provide open plan flexible offices to help them improve service efficiency. Their solution has created three floors of open plan workspace within the u-shape of the original station and hotel complex, using the old hotel and station rooms as spaces for meetings. The city’s councillors will also be located in West Offices although major meetings will still be held in the Victorian Council chamber room at the Guildhall.

Speaking for the developers Sandy Smith said: “This has been an amazing project to work on.We’ve taken a run-down building which had no clear future and given it a new lease of life and civic role in a totally sustainable way. Without the council’s vision and their cooperation throughout the design and build process, we could not have achieved this.”

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