Council confirms move to smaller office space with new Coalville customer centre - to avoid spending millions on current site

  Posted: 28.07.21 at 16:13 by Coalville Nub News

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• Majority of staff will continue to work from home

• Customer Contact Centre to move into Coalville town centre

• Historic Stenson House to stay and retain registration services

• Offices at existing Whitwick Business Centre will be available for staff to use

North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) has confirmed it is set to move to a new, smaller office space and create a customer contact centre in Coalville town centre.

A proposal to change the authority’s accommodation to suit its new ways of working was approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday (July 27).

An artist’s impression of Stenson House

​Subject to Full Council approval in September, the council will refurbish the top floor of the existing Whitwick Business Centre to create a place where staff can work together, while most staff will continue to work from home.

A new Customer Service Centre will be created in the heart of Coalville town centre, likely to be one of the units in the Belvoir Shopping Centre.

When Coalville Nub News reported the plans last month - you can read that article HERE - the estimated cost was £2.8million, but the latest figure has now been put at £1.5million.

The council says the new building will provide a more central location and customers will have the option to choose how they access services whether it is in person, over the phone or in a virtual capacity.

The aged Council Offices would be demolished, retaining the historic Stenson House - formerly the Urban District Council building - which will still host registration services.

An artist’s impression of the office spaces at Whitwick Business Centre

The current Council Offices, an extension to Stenson House which was built in the 1970s, has been deemed unfit for modern working and would cost millions to make it fit for purpose.

It would cost:

• £4 million in backlogged maintenance to bring it up to safe standards
• £7.3 million to refurbish for modern ways of working
• £7.8 million to build a replacement

Instead, the council plans to invest £1.5 million to create its new office space at Whitwick Business Centre and create a customer centre into Coalville town centre.

This move towards a more agile way of working has been in the pipeline for some time now, but the pandemic fast tracked this work somewhat, with the majority of staff immediately set up to work from home.

Full Council will consider the proposal on September 7. Subject to approval, work on the Customer Centre will begin immediately, with a possible opening in winter 2021/22.

The move from the Council Offices to Whitwick Business Centre is likely to take place in Spring 2022.

Bev Smith, Chief Executive of North West Leicestershire District Council, said: “The building we currently work from is not just tired, it isn’t fit for purpose, and would cost millions to bring it up to safe and modern standards.

"We’ve looked at agile and flexible working for our staff for some time now, but the pandemic brought this work forward, with most people working from home effectively.

“As we move towards smaller premises and a more modern way of working for staff, we want our customers to know that they’re on this journey with us too.

"A new central location for our Customer Service Centre will give customers the flexibility to choose how they access our services, whether it’s face-to-face, over the phone or virtually.”

Councillor Richard Blunt, Leader of North West Leicestershire District Council, added: “It doesn’t make financial sense to stay in a building that needs so much investment to make it right for our staff.

"We have approached flexible working with an open mind and are pleased that most staff now work from home efficiently and continue to provide great services.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the plans take shape to modernise our accommodation, particularly the customer facing element, which will be in a much more convenient town centre location.”

The council added:

• Whitwick Business Centre is owned and managed by North West Leicestershire District Council. Businesses currently located within the centre are being supported to move to new premises by the council.
During the pandemic, no council staff were furloughed. Instead, those not working in frontline jobs (like bin collections, street cleansing and grounds maintenance) were set up to work from home effectively.

• The new accommodation will provide space for around 50 per cent of NWLDC office-based staff at any one time and will be a space where people can work together in person. The rest of the time staff will continue to work from home, providing a flexible and modern approach to working.

• Once the move away from the Council Offices is complete, the building will be demolished and the land, including the car parks will be sold. London Road Car Park will be retained, and access to the bowls club and gardens backing on to the land will be maintained.

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