Council bosses celebrate start of new shared officer project in Lowestoft

Official turf Cutting cermony for the new Council buildings in Lowestoft.
Mark Bee, Colin Law and Dennis Cotton cut the soil. Official turf Cutting cermony for the new Council buildings in Lowestoft. Mark Bee, Colin Law and Dennis Cotton cut the soil.

Friday, February 21, 2014
6:30 AM

Construction work got under way this week on a £13.6m waterfront office block in south Lowestoft that will provide a new shared home for two councils.

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image of shared office block for Lowestoft-based council staffimage of shared office block for Lowestoft-based council staff

Once completed, the building by Lake Lothing in Riverside Road will house all staff employed by Waveney District Council and Suffolk County Council staff in Lowestoft, apart from their customer services employees.

The start of the work was marked by a ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday, attended by Waveney’s leader Colin Law and his county council counterpart Mark Bee.

As they celebrated the start of the 13-month construction project, they explained the rationale of investing millions of pounds in the new building and relocating hundreds of staff there from Lowestoft Town Hall and 10 local offices at a time when public finances were being squeezed.

The two councils say moving to the new building will help them save up to £3m of tax-payers’ money over 10 years by allowing them to dispose of the 11 buildings which are deemed unfit for purpose or inefficient.

Mr Law said: “If we maintained our current buildings, it could have cost up to £16m over 10 years. At a time when funding for public organisations is under increasing pressure, we simply could not allow that to happen.

“Instead we are creating a win-win scenario which will provide appropriate accommodation for our hard-working staff while better protecting the important services we provide to the local community.”

Last year, a petition was set up opposing the office project by Frank Joyce, of Lowestoft Coalition Against the Cuts, who claimed no proper assessment had been made of the potential impact of moving so many staff away from the town centre. Concerns were also voiced over the future of the town hall, but the project was approved.

Mr Law said Lowestoft Town Hall would remain in council use for two years, and although talks would be taking place with developers about its future, the Grade II listed building would not be demolished and important architectural features, such as its stained glassed windows, would remain.

The new three-storey office block will have a conference room, a public café and parking for more than 200 vehicles. It is hoped that council meetings will be held there from April next year.

Both council leaders were keen to stress how the new building would also be a catalyst for regenerating the Riverside Road area.

Mr Bee said: “This is not about lavishing money on a new building. It is about working together with Waveney in a rational way with tax-payers money. If we have kept our buildings and spent millions on them, then that would have been a waste of tax-payers money.”

The building work on the new offices is being carried out by Kier construction group.

As part of the relocation plans, Waveney’s Marina Centre will be refurbished by 2015 so both sets of council customer service staff can work there.

Gareth Douce, a member of the Labour opposition group at Waveney, who is responsible for scrutinising the building process, said: “With a project of this scale, it is vital that it be delivered on time and within budget, I am pleased to be in a position to observe progress and hold decisions to account.”

14 comments

  • David, we have all read the article. Cllr (f)Law states 'it could have cost up to £16m'. Could have? Would have? Might do? I believe this is a plucked-out-of-the-air figure, ironically nit much more than they now want to waste, to try to make some sort of justification to us taxpayers. Check out Yarmouth's Town Hall... refurbished for just over £2m, and much more energy efficient! The whole project is to ensure district and county councillors (plus those when the Suffolk Coastal eventually merges) don't have to suffer the 'inconvenience' of the dreaded bridge.

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    Kendo

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • David, we have all read the article. Cllr (f)Law states 'it could have cost up to £16m'. Could have? Would have? Might do? I believe this is a plucked-out-of-the-air figure, ironically nit much more than they now want to waste, to try to make some sort of justification to us taxpayers. Check out Yarmouth's Town Hall... refurbished for just over £2m, and much more energy efficient! The whole project is to ensure district and county councillors (plus those when the Suffolk Coastal eventually merges) don't have to suffer the 'inconvenience' of the dreaded bridge.

    Report this comment

    Kendo

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • 13 million is half the third crossing that world really help Waveney rather than this vanity project. They should have moved into the empty building built by Asda at their request as part of planning permission

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • Have people actually read the article? Say you were running the council and had the choice of spending £16 million in the next 10 years on old and energy-inefficient buildings, or spending £13 million on new purpose-built low-energy offices...which option would you take to get the best value for money for taxpayers?

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    David Ellis

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • Scandalous. Just goes to prove how out of touch with reality our 'so called' elected representatives really are, constantly ignoring the wishes, suggestions and protestations of everyone they are supposed to serve. Please please people of Waveney, vote all of these self-interested nest featherers out at the next election before they do any more damage to our once proud and beautiful town.

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    Kendo

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • No doubt those that planned this new building have allowed for the area where it is being built to be subjected to flooding as has happened in the past. Lowestoft has no town centre flood defences and an appalling road network, how about sorting these out before wasting money building a luxury waterfront council office building. Does anyone believe statements made by these council people anymore?

    Report this comment

    Port Watcher

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • Will the new build town hall be raised to prevent it getting flooded and costing the towns taxpayers even more revenue?????

    Report this comment

    CC

    Sunday, February 23, 2014

  • Will council tax payers be footing the bill for waders and wellies? Only our Wisdom Deficient Council, and Lings, could build in an area liable to flooding!

    Report this comment

    peter waller

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • Two classic phrases come to mind when reading the above report 1. Putting the cart before the horse. 2 Nero fiddling whilst Rome burns. Surely the priorities of WDC and SCC should be put this town back on it's feet by using resources to generate employment and not spending vast sums on plush ivory towers from which to view the town gradually die. To put it in medical terms Lowestoft is suffering from a heart problem. It's main arteries are clogged up and it desperately needs a bypass. It astounds me that there are new road systems in place on both sides of Lake Lothing (with work about to commence on the Northern Spine Road) but no plans are in place to complete the surgery required by installing a third crossing. Only when this is done will this town be on the road to recovery and be given a new lease of life. This will encourage businesses to invest in the area and create jobs.

    Report this comment

    MacRob

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • Considering that both Councils are imposing huge service cuts and are tens of millions of pounds short of budgets they are a perfect display of arrogance, contempt, unethical, self deluded egoes. Just what the people and tax payers need right now (not). Absolutely disgraceful behaviour!!

    Report this comment

    Dave01

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • It must be important to have a riverside view. Essential if all you have to do is stare out of the window all day long. I hope the seats are comfortable.

    Report this comment

    kevin bacon

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • I agree with Frank, at this point in time the town desperately needs flood protection and a third crossing. Yes I have read the article on the economics of new build and I believe the figures portrayed do not stack up, when asked to justify the costings to the Taxpayers Alliance the Council have not been forthcoming. I do not believe that the figure of 13 million is the end of the expenditure there will be a large sums to be found for moving in to the building and also for decommissioning and making ready to sell the old council officers. But the following expenditure has been commissioned by the council (13.5 million plus) as has the pedestrian footbridge(3 to 5,000,000 plus) the creation of the Lowestoft transport interchange, which is a posh name for a bus shelter, car park, and access to the railway station, (£1 million), the purchase to knock down the Sanyo television factory (2,425,000). The commissioning of the area action plan which is flawed and can not work in the opinion of many people (£5-£10 million plus).All of the above are trips of fancy. Investments made by a council who has lost touch with the people,And why they are there,If I could remind them. To represent the people for the betterment of the town and area. If all these sums had been used wisely Lowestoft could have had flood protection and a third crossing. if the money had been spent wisely Lowestoft would have a third crossing and flood protection.

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    Peter Colby

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • Before spending a fortune on modern swanky vanity offices I want WDC to prioritise the essential services & resources it should be protecting. The town & area desperately need looking after better, flood protection, looking after those in need, rather than wasting our taxes building Ivory towers for fat cats on a prime flood risk site. They spend our money on this for their own comfort whilst cutting back on things that made a real difference for the people they're elected to serve.

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    Frank

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • Where does WDC suddenly have all this spare money to fund the recently announced projects, new town hall, re develop Sanyo with houses. Shame the money has not been made available for projects to attract (working) people to the town.

    Report this comment

    CC

    Monday, February 24, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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