Plymouth City Council has bought its headquarters at Millbay as part of an investment package designed to save £2.25 million over the next few years in current rent and running costs.
The purchase of Ballard House is part of the Council’s ongoing accommodation strategy, a rolling programme of work designed to generate savings, improve the working environment for staff and customers and ensure the Council’s portfolio of buildings is fit for purpose.
Council leader Tudor Evans said: “This works on so many levels. It is more cost effective for the Council to buy rather than rent taking advantage of historically low long term fixed interest rates.”
The Council occupies four floors of the seven story office block since moving out of the Civic Centre in 2014. Before that, it rented some office space in the building.
“The shape of the Council is changing constantly and we need to make the best use of the offices and properties,” he added.
Ballard House is now base for over 700 council staff, but advances in technology means that more and more staff are being encouraged to work flexibly – both at home and in other council buildings – to keep the costs of office space down. Most of the staff are now hot-desking.
The Council has an existing investment portfolio is now worth in excess of £230 million and income generated across the council’s estate helps the Council to help fund frontline services.
The purchase also provides the Council with control of a key strategic site right on the waterfront at Millbay.
Staff are also located in other parts of the city including Windsor House, which it shares with the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, as well as buildings at Derriford Business Park and Midland House.
A delegated decision is being signed off this week to give the go-ahead to award a contract to carry out repairs and improve the appearance of the concrete exterior of the building.
Councillor Tudor Evans added: “Before buying Ballard, we had a number of external condition surveys carried out – as you would – and these identified a number issues that need sorting and have been factored into our costings.”