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New WMDC Civic Buildings Rip Off

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yetion1
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« on: September 27, 2010, 08:31:11 pm »

Wakefield Council moves into new business quarter
Ref: PR 2727
Date: 09/09/2010

Wakefield city centre’s new business quarter is moving forward with the completion of Phase One of Merchant Gate and the start of Phase Two to provide a new council building.

Phase One, which opens today, includes offices, apartments, a public square, retail and leisure facilities. Work is now starting on Wakefield’s new civic offices, which form Phase Two and will see an eco-friendly four-storey building on Burton Street. The project started three years ago as part of the Council’s efficiency-drive.

The civic building will be home to the Council’s new state-of-the-art city centre library, with plans being made to develop other space as a modern customer contact centre for the Council and space for partner organisations. It will replace outdated buildings which are running up big repair and maintenance costs.

Cllr Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “This new building is a key part of the Council’s drive for efficiency, as well as providing a much-needed new library for the city and encouraging economic growth.

“We started this project three years ago and now we are seeing it take shape. We need to invest to save money and this new building means we can move out of old, expensive offices and into an energy-efficient, modern base which will give a better service to citizens.”

Joanne Roney, Chief Executive of Wakefield Council, said: “Moving to this new building demonstrates of our confidence in Wakefield’s regeneration as well as our commitment to develop our services to customers and work more efficiently

“It gives us the opportunity to co-locate services with partner organisations and provide improved services for our customers, moving towards a one-stop shop for inquiries for all council services.”

The new building will cost £31.2m, which is covered by selling old council buildings and a 60-year mortgage arrangement. The running costs of the new building are expected to be less than the total running costs of the buildings the Council will be moving out of and these savings will also cover the mortgage repayments. In addition, the Council will also save money on the backlog of repairs needed on the old buildings.

Since 2007, the Council has been moving out of 22 of its buildings, drawing in money from the sale of sites and making savings by ending leases and cutting high maintenance bills for these older properties.

The new office block has been designed to deliver a flexible space that allows for the evolution of the building over time. It will also feature state-of-the-art eco-friendly features including a natural air filtration system which will provide a constant supply of fresh air into the office space. This process reduces the overall energy consumption of the building, meaning environmental and financial benefits and savings.

The building will also deliver on environmental performance using exposed concrete to control to temperature within the office space and a timber-lined atrium to absorb noise to minimise the impact of activity on the surrounding offices.

The first phase of Merchant Gate includes more than £50m worth of new development including a new multi-storey car park, 66 contemporary residential apartments, 47,000 sq ft of Grade ‘A’ office space and 35,000 sq ft of retail and leisure accommodation.

Emma Cordingley, development director for ECf, said: “This is a significant milestone for the Merchant Gate development and the wider regeneration in the city. Following the completion of the first phase its great to see the second phase underway, highlighting our commitment to delivering this essential scheme for Wakefield.”

Peter Cartwright, Director at Cartwright Pickard Architects comments “In these challenging times it’s tremendous to be reporting such good news. It may only be the start of the project on site but we are committed to working hard with the contractor to make sure we deliver a first class building for Wakefield and the English Cities Fund.”

The new civic offices are due to be completed late 2011 and open in 2012.

The building forms part of phase two of the Merchant Gate develop ment being delivered by English Cities Fund (ECF) - a partnership between Muse Developments, Legal and General and national housing and regeneration agency the Homes and Communities Agency - with financial support from Wakefield Council, Yorkshire Forward and the European Regional Development Fund.
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