£51m of savings could be made over 30 years if Northamptonshire County Council closes its 12 headquarters and moves into ‘energy efficient’ new premises in the town centre, the authority claims.
A final business case for Project Angel, a bid to build new premises at derelict land off Angel Street and move 2,000 council staff into the town centre, is set to be approved by the county council’s cabinet next week.
The report states the authority’s current ageing stock of 12 headquarter buildings, which includes John Dryden House, Riverside House and the trading standards office at Wootton Park, cost £56,000-a-week to run and could bring in up to £13m if all of them are sold.
Cabinet member for finance Councillor Bill Parker (Con, Clover Hill) said: “The full business case clearly shows that this project will deliver very real hard cash benefits to taxpayers through avoiding escalating property costs and also creating income from the sale of our existing buildings.
“This, however, does not take into account the ‘softer’ benefits which moving all our staff into one building will create.
“There will clearly be benefits of more efficient working, less travel time between locations and operational benefits, but all of this is far harder to put a figure on at this stage”
“Put that on top of the huge economic benefit of bringing thousands of people back into Northampton town centre and it is clear that this is a win-win project which will save taxpayers money and drive economic growth.”
The business case for Project Angel declares that in bringing 2,000 employees into the town centre, Northampton will receive £12m boost to its economy over ten years, with the council staff spending in local food and retail outlets.
Chief executive of the county council Paul Blantern, speaking at a press conference today, said the new premises could also attract new major name retailers to the town.
“People often say there is no retail in Northampton,” he said. “But when you start to bring a larger ‘suit index’ into Northampton - of more employees with disposable income - big companies look at these sports of figures.
There is a huge amount of public sector investment going on in the town and that can be a real catalyst for economic improvements.”
Leader of the council Councillor Jim Harker (Con, ISE) said: “Project Angel is excellent news for the taxpayers of this county.
“By investing in the construction of this building we will be bringing in year-on-year savings on the amount of money we have to spend on our buildings.
“Project Angel is also excellent news for Northampton town centre’s economy. This project would see thousands of office workers being brought back into the town centre and with it thousands more people to use the shops and services on offer there. This can only be good news for the county town.”
As part of approving a business case for Project Angel the authority is poised to recruit contractor Galliford Try to start construction of the new building in January.
Speaking at a press conference today the council’s programme director Richard Beeby said an ‘extensive archeological study’ had been carried out on the land intended for the build and added that it is unlikely anything else of historical significance is to be found there.
A medieval bread oven, an early 13th Century well shaft and trading tokens are among the items discovered there by archeologists.