THE council is ready to embark on a huge reorganisation of office space and sell those buildings in Halifax which are no longer fit for purpose.
About £12 million is expected to be spent on modernising the remaining property, a move which will help to retain about 1,000 office workers actively employed in the town centre.
Overall, the changes are expected to reduce running costs by more than £7.5 million over the next 25 years and £1.2 million a year after that.
Calderdale Council Cabinet will be asked to agree to the proposals when it meets next Monday.
Over time, the council will move out of Northgate House, Dean Clough, Horton House, Hoover Building, Park Road and the Elsie Whiteley Centre.
Council leader, Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said: “These plans represent a win-win for Halifax. By keeping jobs in the town centre, they represent an important boost for local businesses and the local economy.
“They enable us to invest in and retain Princess Buildings, an important local listed building which will be transformed to ensure it has a sustainable future. And the plan will produce significant savings for the council which is critical in these tough times.”
Deputy leader Janet Battye (Lib-Dem, Calder) said: “We want the council’s office buildings to continue to be in Halifax town centre and this will mean that it is easy for local people to contact the council and that the council continues to be at the heart of the town centre.
“The £12 million investment will be met through savings on buildings running and maintenance costs.”
Under the plans, Westgate House and Princess Buildings, in the heart of the town centre, would be retained and refurbished, together with Mulcture House. The council has already decided to create brand new Customer First centre in Broad Street Plaza, where customers will be able to get the help and access to the full range of services.
The new arrangements should enable better ways of working in accommodation based on three buildings in the town centre to the benefit of local residents and businesses.
It has already been agreed to close the Northgate House administrative office and also earmarked for the chop is Horton House education centre and the social services offices at Park Road,
When the leases expire, the council expect to vacate Dean Clough, the Hoover Building, at West Parade, and space at the Elsie Whiteley centre, in Hopwood Lane.
Westgate House, in Market Street, will be improved and a training centre set up at the Shay stadium, if the scheme is approved by councillors.
The Halifax Custormer First office is due to open at the Broad Street Plaza early next year.
The idea of ensuring that Council office staff remain located in Halifax town centre is encouraging, says Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s head of policy and representation, Steven Leigh.
“It is good to see that in spite of the difficult economic climate, positive measures are being taken to develop Halifax town centre and make it an attractive place to visit for leisure, business and shopping,” he said.