New location put forward for council headquarters

A proposal for Middlesbrough Council’s new headquarters will see the authority remain at the heart of the town.

The move would see council staff relocate from the crumbling Civic Centre to nearby Fountain Court in Centre Square.

The current office building – attached to the Town Hall and home to many of the council’s departments for nearly 50 years – will be sold for refurbishment or demolition paving the way for new development.

The new home replaces a previous plan to renovate the iconic Centre North East building which was shelved as the council’s focus moved to its Covid-19 response.

The re-think reflects the authority’s changing needs, and a growing ability for staff to work from home, reducing the amount of office space required.

Earlier plans for the council to move into one of Centre Square’s flagship Grade A office blocks were halted by Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston, with the buildings now let to a range of growing businesses.

Firstsource are among the new tenants, vacating Fountain Court, which is now a viable option as a council replacement for the Civic Centre.

Increased home working and the council’s new Locality Working model also mean the authority now needs less office than previously.

Mayor Preston said: “The Civic Centre is quite simply no longer fit for purpose, and we’ve been exploring options for some time now.

“Alongside that, the pandemic has changed everything over the last 12 months, and that includes the office space we need as a Council.

“The vast majority of staff have been working from home throughout, and we won’t need the same amount of office space in the future.

“Fountain Court represents the best value of all the options available to us, and will save us up to £7 million compared with earlier proposals.

“Not only will we be saving a considerable amount of money, but we will be bringing empty offices back into use, and keeping the Council right at the heart of all the amazing things happening in the town right now.”

If the proposal is given the green light, refurbishment of Fountain Court will cost up to £4 million, with staff expecting to start moving there from summer 2022.

A report on Middlesbrough Council’s proposed move to Fountain Court will considered at a meeting of the executive on Tuesday, March 16.