Vaux move will spearhead Sunderland regeneration - council leader insists £61miilion City Hall switch is right decision
Sunderland City Council's move to a new £61million base on the Vaux site will help spearhead regeneration on Wearside.
That's the view of council leader Graeme Miller as the business case for the move away from the current Civic Centre is due to be discussed by cabinet on Wednesday.
Ahead of the meeting, the local authority has said that as well as providing a new base for 1,200 council staff, the City Hall project will also bring together a number of public sector partners under one roof, making it easier for people to access different services they require.
Due to that, the size of the planned building has increased by a third to allow for an extra 235 staff. That means the cost of the City Hall project will now be £61million, although the council insists the overall cost impact remains the same as it will be offset from rental income from commercial space occupied by other third parties in the building.
Council leaders say the move to the Vaux site would also allow the current Civic Centre land to be freed up for more city centre housing.
Subject to Cabinet and planning approval, work on the City Hall project could start this year and have an estimated completion date of 2021.
The new City Hall building - which will take the form of two office blocks fronting on to Keel Square linked by a central atrium - will bring together council staff previously spread across eight different locations and will mean services including the Customer Service Network, Revenues and Benefits, Housing Options, Births, Deaths and Marriages, the Coroner’s Office, Social Care Financial Assessment and Financial Safeguarding will all be on one site.
The council says the project is set to deliver net operational savings of £22.091m over 25 years compared with staying in the current Civic Centre, which is set to become obsolete in the
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next five years.
Council leader, Coun r Graeme Miller, said: "These plans will spearhead the regeneration of our city centre, creating confidence in the market that will stimulate private sector investment in Sunderland.
"But, much more than that, they will deliver a civic hub that will deliver modern services that will deliver better, more joined-up support for our residents, making it easier for them to get the advice and support they need from a range of public service providers.
"It's also about helping us to modernise the way we work so we can make sure our communities have access to the excellent services they deserve.
"The move will allow us to offer seamless services to residents from birth right through to later life by housing a wide range of council and other public services under one roof.
"The council is looking for the most cost effective, quickest and most beneficial move in terms of helping the city centre. This is a move to a smaller better base fit for the needs of the 21st century.
"It's also the most beneficial option in terms of helping the city centre and it will free up the current civic centre site for new homes helping generate extra footfall in the city centre."