Friday, 19 December 2014

Knowle relocation project: comparing the West Dorset relocation project

Almost a year and a half ago, this blog looked at the 'aspiration' of West Dorset to relocate:
Futures Forum: East Devon and West Dorset: relocation projects compared

There have been other developments...

Initially West Dorset District Council had intended to build offices at a cost of £10.7 million:

COUNCILLORS have blocked a bid to consider a new proposal for the new offices of West Dorset District Council (WDDC).
At a heated full council meeting, a majority vote rejected a motion to halt plans for the new £10.7million council offices at the Charles Street development while a thorough investigation is made into a new offer.
West Dorset District Council refuses Poundbury office offer (From Bournemouth Echo)
Dorchester town centre plans move a step closer | Real West Dorset

But, then, WDDC had to sell its old HQ for half the asking price...
... and the declared price for its new HQ came in at £1million less than initially mooted:

Criticism over West Dorset District Council's Stratton House sale

Stratton House in DorchesterThe Stratton House site was "unfit for purpose", according to West Dorset District Council

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Opposition councillors have criticised a Dorset council after its old office premises sold for less than half the original target.
West Dorset District Council's Stratton House site in Dorchester was on the market for £3.5m but sold for £1.5m.
In December, the authority moved to new £9.7m premises on Charles Street.
The authority admitted the sale amount was lower than expected but added it had not been reliant on the sale to move to South Walks House.
Independent Councillor Alistair Chisholm said he was "furious" about the matter, after it was raised at a full council meeting on Thursday.
"Overall, it means the move to Charles Street has cost the council considerably more and will, therefore, take considerably longer to make up," he said.
Councillors agreed to sell the Stratton House site to the highest bidder, in December, after it failed to reach its £3.5m target.
'Protect key services'
The authority said its new offices were completed £1m under budget and meant an annual estimated saving of £224,000 in running costs.
It added the relocation had also helped reduce its gas consumption by a third and its electricity use by 40%.
Council leader Robert Gould said this would help the council to "protect key services and keep council tax down".
He added: "Although the sale amount is lower than originally expected, the council was not reliant upon the sale of the Stratton House campus to fund the building of South Walks House.
The Charles Street development in Dorchester - December 2012The council moved into new offices on Charles Street in December last year
"Money from the sale of Stratton House will now be available to fund other capital projects that we may wish to undertake in the future."
Lib Dem Councillor Ros Kayes, who has previously called for Mr Gould to resign over the Charles Street development, said: "Selling the Stratton House site at 43% of its original value is like selling the family silver at less than its worth.
"The taxpayer has had a low return on an investment and it has also reduced the amount of money the council now has to invest in capital projects.
"Plus, there is still no start date for the retail plan of the Charles Street development".
Phase one of the development, which includes the council offices, a library and an adult learning centre, began in June 2011.
There had been concerns the £60m plans for phase two, which were approved in 2010 and had been due to include a hotel and an underground public car park, were "not financially viable".
Revised proposals for 24 flats in place of the hotel have since been approved by councillors.
The council has said it is progressing with plans for the next phase of the development after agreeing in October to fund up to £2m towards preparatory work, which includes relocating Dorchester Community Church from Acland Road to Trinity Street.
The authority said it is currently "in discussions" with the church but added a final design would be subject to planning permission.

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BBC News - Criticism over West Dorset District Council's Stratton House sale
West Dorset District Council sells Stratton House in Dorchester | Blackmore Vale Magazine

Meanwhile, the former HQ has been turned into  apartments...
... including some affordable housing:

Stratton House flats plan unveiled

HOUSING PLANS: Stratton house, Dorchester
HOUSING PLANS: Stratton house, Dorchester

Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Authorby , Dorchester reporter
PLANS have been submitted to convert part of West Dorset District Council’s former offices at Stratton House into housing.
The district council sold the town centre office complex to Stratton House Developments (Bournemouth) Ltd, a subsidiary of Culverdene Properties, at a price of just over £1.5million.
The company has now lodged a planning application with the council for a scheme to convert part of the site into nine dwellings and one flat.
The application relates to buildings to the northern and western parts of the campus, fronting Glyde Path Road and Colliton Street.
Planning documents submitted suggest that, although the council expressed a desire for the whole site to be covered in a single planning application, the developers are looking at a phased approach and intend to bring forward planning applications for other parts of the site shortly.
A planning and access statement submitted by Stratton House Developments states: “The preparation of the drawings for the main listed Stratton House is a complex undertaking and it does not seem sensible to hold up the delivery of other parts of the site pending the outcome of the preparation of these drawings or indeed confirmation that they are acceptable.”
Dorchester town crier and district councillor Alistair Chisholm said that he had not viewed the plans but was not surprised that the site was being put forward for housing and similarly expected the rest of the Stratton House campus to be developed as homes.It adds: “The development strategy therefore is to sub-divide the main site into four constituent elements which will be dealt with separately although there is an acknowledged inter-relationship between all elements of the site.”
However, he said he wanted to see the council ensure that permission was not granted for any development until it was established that sufficient affordable housing would be provided across the whole site, particularly with the affordable housing element possibly being removed from another town centre development at Charles Street.
He said: “For me affordable housing is the number one issue.
“I would want to know before giving planning permission for any of that site if it’s got its share of affordable housing.”
The application can be viewed online at dorsetforyou.com
Stratton House flats plan unveiled (From Dorset Echo)

And a couple of months ago, there was a grand opening...
... and further mention of those 'savings' which justified the move in the first place:

Royal opening for Dorchester council offices

Earl of Wessex at South Banks WalkThe Earl of Wessex toured the £9.7m council office complex

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New council offices in Dorchester have been officially opened by the Earl of Wessex.
The earl toured the new £9.7m South Walks House headquarters for West Dorset District Council on Charles Street as part of a visit to the town.
It replaced Stratton House on High West Street which was put on sale for £3.5m but sold for £1.5m in 2013.
The council previously said the new premises would lead to an annual saving of £224,000 in running costs.

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BBC News - Royal opening for Dorchester council offices

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