Bristol City Council buys £18m office block for staff - but what should it be called?
Bristol City Council has bought an office block near Temple Meads railway station for £18 million as part of a massive overhaul of council offices.
But what should it be called?
The former London Life headquarters are uninspiringly known as 100 Temple Street.
But the office block is capable of eventually housing 2,000 staff who are currently based in a varied collection of 35 buildings throughout the city.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
The long-term aim is to bring all the admin staff together mostly into 100 Temple Street and City Hall in College Green which will undergo a refurbishment of nearly £8 million.
We are asking readers to suggest a new name for the office block which befits its new high-profile role.
Bristol mayor George Ferguson said: “It makes complete sense for the council to vastly reduce the number of offices it currently owns or leases across the city and consolidate into a few core offices.
“The location of 100 Temple Street is very strategic next to Temple meads and the planned Metrobus interchange, as well as being right at the heart of our ambitious plans for Redcliffe and the whole Enterprise Zone area.”
He said they looked at various other offices in the city which the council could have bought - some of which could have been cheaper - but this office block trumped the others, mostly due to its location near Temple Meads.
In the years to come, Mr Ferguson sees council staff travelling to work on the metro system to Temple Meads and walking a few hundred yards to their office.
The council could also not have bought a better time due to the recession which has seen the bottom fall out of the commercial property market.
It is understood that the purchase price was less than half what the owners, Aviva Investors Property Trust, paid for the office block at the height of the boom in 2005.
The purchase also rules out converting an empty bonded warehouse in the Cumberland Basin which was suggested last year.
Mr Ferguson said: “We looked carefully at A Bond but it was not right for this move.
“It would have been more expensive, would have provided less functional workspace and was in an inappropriate location.
“However, there remains a great opportunity for A Bond to be developed in partnership as a residential or mixed use development as part of a wider regeneration of Cumberland Basin.”
The refurb of City Hall will take about six to nine months and although all the staff will be moved out during the process, it will still be used for council meetings and events.
Although it is a Grade II* listed building, City Hall is woefully inadequate as council offices in the 21st century.
The makeover will see the removal of partitioning to create open space offices, new cabling to accommodate upgraded software, a new customer service point to replace Phoenix Court in New Bond Street and even a cafe and meeting rooms for clubs and groups.
“I really want to see City Hall used in the same way as in many European cities so it becomes a market place for people to meet,” Mr Ferguson said.
The overhaul of council offices will cost a whopping £70 million in outlay - but council officers have conservatively estimated that savings on running costs will give a net “profit” during the next 25 years of £40 million.
Mr Ferguson said Bristol was playing “catch up” with other councils such as Birmingham, Wiltshire and Swindon which had already started the process of rationalising its office space.
He said: “This is not about providing comfort or luxury for council staff - it’s about running services as efficiently as we possibly can in good working conditions.”
The council currently uses 53,000 sq metres of office space in the city which will be reduced to 32,000 sq metres although Mr Ferguson is asking for even more savings.
Council staff are expected to move into 100 Temple Street from the beginning of next year which will open the way for City Hall to be refurbished.
It will also mean that some council buildings will be available for other possible uses - including new primary schools.
The office shake up which has been worked on by a team of officers for the past few years due to its complexity, is being paid for with prudential borrowing - low-cost loans from the Government which are only available to local authorities.
The purchase of 100 Temple Street has already been welcomed by business leaders and property experts in the city.
Ned Cussen, on behalf of the Bristol Property Agents Association, said: “This is good news for all of Bristol and I commend the initiative from the council.
“It will enable the council to deliver more efficient services in a first class building.
“It is also a great location for both staff and visitors.
“100 Temple Street is a quality building and the deal represents good value for money.
“Whichever way you look at it, this a major property deal for Bristol and gives a great lift to the local economy.
“More so, it uses vacant space and gives a great boost to the Enterprise Zone at Temple Meads.
“The zone will be one of the major focuses for economic activity in the Greater Bristol area in the next decade.
“This deal makes far more sense than trying to convert thered brick Tobacco Bond at Cumberland Basin to offices.”
Colin Skellett, chairman of Wessex Water and the Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is great news for Bristol and makes eminent strategic sense in terms of its location alongside the Enterprise Zone with its great regional transport links.
“It is encouraging to see the mayor driving these efficiency measures through in the intests of more effective and economic governance.”
Phil Smith, MD of Business West, said: “We applaud George for taking decisive action to implement more efficient and effective ways of accommodating council staff.
“Whilst this may seem obvious and a rleatively minor decision, it will actually provide some important benefits.
“More staff housed in fewer offices and less space will save the council money at a time when budgets are particularly tight - a saving of around £40 million over 25 years is a significant amount that can now be used to help create jobs and improve the environment of the city.
“The idea of relocating council staff close to Temple Meads and the Enterprise Zone shows the mayor’s commitment to further regenerating this area and creating a focus for activity and enterprise, hopefully this will encourage others to do the same.”