Office accommodation project

Over the last few years, we have been considering how we can make savings and operate in the most efficient way possible, while continuing to deliver quality services and achieve high customer satisfaction.

The council currently operates from five office sites within Harrogate town centre that have been acquired or inherited on an ad hoc basis over many years. As a result, over 500 of the council's employees are spread across the town.

Over the last few years the council has been considering how it can reduce its running costs and realise significant savings by decreasing the amount of office accommodation it uses and operating more efficiently over fewer sites. The council's current office buildings are of varying age and specification, and many are in need of significant investment, suffer from the shortcomings that make them unsuited to modern working styles and are inefficient to run. In financial terms operating from five sites is costly and inefficient, with five sets of business rates, utility costs, and the duplication of services. Working across fewer sites will not only realise a significant financial benefit, it will also help employees to work together more easily, and help the council to provide an even better service for residents and visitors.

The council has looked at a wide number of options to meet its accommodation needs in the future. We have considered a range of factors including initial cost of building/renovation, long-term operational and running costs, environmental sustainability, improved service provision, and the economic impact of private businesses using the council's existing buildings. Following an evaluation process the council considers that there are two viable options:

  • building new energy-efficient, purpose-built office accommodation at its Knapping Mount site, or
  • consolidating in Scottsdale House, Crescent Gardens and Springfield House

The council's preferred option was to investigate further the option for new build accommodation at Knapping Mount.

To read council reports relating to the accommodation project please see the June/July 2013 Accommodation Strategy report.

A consultation was undertaken in summer 2014 to receive views on the two options and overall the majority of the respondents were in favour of the new build option on the Knapping Mount site. To read an analysis of the consultation exercise see the August 2014 Consultation report.

Pre-Planning Consultation

Following this consultation the council carried out a pre-planning consultation to assist in developing proposals for a planning application for the Knapping Mount site.

This consultation closed on 2nd November 2014 and the feedback will now be reviewed by the council in developing its plans.

Planning Application submission

Following the pre-planning consultation the council submitted its application at the end of November, this was validated on 4th December (ref. 14/04985/RG3MAJ). Full details on the planning application can be found on the council's website. The council endeavours to take into account all comments received before an application is decided and interested parties will have the opportunity to comment on the planning application up until it is considered at the Planning Committee, provisionally scheduled to occur on Tuesday 3 March 2015.

Recommendations to council July 2015

Following the approval of the planning application the council carried out a tender exercise to determine the costs of building new accommodation on the Knapping Mount site. This process was completed and in June 2015 and combines with information about the possible sale values of surplus offices and information about the savings that the council could expect as part of a move to co-locate in a single energy efficient building. This information has now been included in reports to the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Commission (7 July), Cabinet (8 July) and Council (15 July). Please read the reports setting out this information.

Construction

The successful contractor Harry Fairclough Construction commenced building work on site in October 2015. Work is on-going with completion due during Summer 2017. A blog has been set up to provide updates on the project and also a live camera feed of the on-site works.

Page last updated 08/09/2017