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Options considered over future of Civic Centre

Middlesbrough Council is considering proposals to leave its current headquarters and create a new city centre base.

A report due to be considered by the Council’s Executive later this month will recommend that the Council moves out of the existing Civic Centre once an alternative location is agreed.

The proposal is the latest stage in the authority’s ongoing drive to reduce property costs while moving to more efficient ways of working.

If the move is given the green light, further recommendations will be considered early in the new year.

The proposal will replace an outdated building, achieve long-term savings -including reducing the Council’s energy costs and carbon footprint - as well as freeing up important development space for new investment.

Potential redevelopment of the Civic Centre site will complement the planned Grade A Office development at the eastern end of Centre Square, helping to create a new city-scale environment which will enhance the economy of the town centre and Middlesbrough as a whole.

The current Civic Centre building – which adjoins the Victorian Town Hall on the northern side of Centre Square - was built in the mid 1960s and has been the Council’s main administrative hub for more than five decades.

The building now requires major investment of around £6.5 million over the next five years to bring it up to modern day working standards, with projected running and maintenance costs over the next 35 years rising to £20 million.

The concrete structure of the building also has a limited lifespan and may reach the end of its usable life during that period, necessitating significant works or relocation.

Cuts to public sector funding since 2010 have brought about a transformation both in the way the Council operates and in its portfolio of property and capital assets.

This on-going process is resulting in a more flexible, productive and ‘agile’ workforce, reducing running and maintenance costs and improving accessibility and responsiveness for local residents.

The Executive report explores a number of options - including the use of existing Council buildings and other town centre office accommodation - with a recommendation for a new-build development to house the Council’s staff of around 600.

While the up-front cost of a new-build could be up to £14 million, the overall cost of a complete refurbishment of the existing building is estimated at up to £16 million.

It is also considered the new-build – with an estimated lifespan of 60 years - would deliver more benefit to the town over a longer period.

Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for City Centre Strategy, said: “For some years, the Civic Centre has not been fit for purpose as a modern working environment and it does not support the Council’s ‘agile working’ approach.

“While refurbishment has to be considered as an option, the clear advice is that this is not a cost-effective solution in the long term.

“It therefore makes sense that we further explore the development of a new Civic Centre which will reflect the size and flexibility of the Council’s current and future workforce, and one that will make a lasting contribution to the life of the town.

“This approach will also enable new development around Centre Square which will further enhance it as one of the region’s key destinations for both business and leisure.”

  • A report on the future of the Civic Centre will be considered at a meeting of Middlesbrough Council’s Executive on Tuesday, December 19.