Saga continues for council offices

The Angus Council offices at 5-7 The Cross.
The Angus Council offices at 5-7 The Cross.

The troubled attempted sale of council offices at The Cross in Forfar is back on the agenda on Thursday (tomorrow) at a full meeting of Angus Council.

A report by Richard Stiff, chief executive of the local authority, gives an update on the state of play and recommends a way forward.

His report formally confirms J D Wetherspoon plc have ended their interest in the purchase of 5-7 The Cross; suggests options that might be considered as next steps with regard to the future of the building and recommends members agree the building should be brought into scope for the current review of the council’s estate within the Transforming Angus programme.

By including the property in the current council wide estates review, Mr Stiff states it offers the prospect of a more positive outcome and the lowest risk.

In the report Mr Stiff states: “The council now needs to consider the future of the building within the council’s asset portfolio. Members will recall the building is likely to have significant maintenance requirements over the next three to five years; in general terms the requirement is expected to amount to a figure significantly in excess of £400,000.”

The report puts forward three options - the first being the status quo - to continue to utilise the building to accommodate Member Services staff and elected members. This would represent a significant under use of the property and still leave the council with the need to identify funds for 
the maintenance.

Option two - re-market the property - however, the formal and full marketing of the property in 2014 produced no offers.

Mr Stiff believes it is considered very unlikely that a repeat exercise would change this.

His report continues: “The now widely publicised maintenance requirements, the listed status of the building and the current planning restrictions on its use all serve to reduce the attraction of the property to potential buyers.”

He recommends councillors agree to the third option - future use of the property via the Current Transforming Angus Accommodation Review

He states: “Members will be aware that within the Transforming Angus Programme the Agile workstream is looking to enable new mobile and agile ways of working, modernise the council’s approach to the use of technology and deliver fit for purpose and sustainable office accommodation.

“This option places the consideration of the future use of the building within the wider strategic context of affordable and sustainable council facilities and offices across the county, including the provision of fit for purpose facilities for elected members. This approach offers the most realistic prospect for moving forward from the current position. This will be the subject of a report to council later this year.”