Future of York council’s £32m West Offices HQ under review

City of York Council HQ. Photograph: YorkMix
18 Nov 2020 @ 7.30 am
| News

Councillors are to review the future of West Offices, which is still largely empty due to the pandemic.

The future of the City of York Council HQ on Station Rise was converted at a cost of £32 million. When the authority moved in from the Guildhall and various other office locations across the city, leaders said it would generate millions in cost savings.

But the changing working patterns forced on everyone due to coronavirus have meant a rethink.

The HQ on the former station site. Photograph: YorkMix

A report to the Executive meeting of councillors on 26 November says: “The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and a forced move to remote working and remote public meetings, raises potential questions” about the use of West Offices.

“It is very unlikely that City of York Council will return to the previous level of use of desk space in West Offices.

“The future use and layout of West Offices will be reviewed as our understanding of the long term impact of Covid on working patterns grows.”

The council shares the building with other organisations, including the York & District Citizens Advice Bureau, the South Yorkshire Credit Union and NHS Vale of York CCG.

More of the office space could be rented out to other organisations, the report says.

Councillors, working from home, will consider the report at the Executive meeting on 26 November.

West Offices facts

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The West Offices complex dates from 1839-41 and lies just within York’s city walls. According to Historic England: “The site has high historical and architectural significance as one of the first generation of railway stations, with an experimental form that established a pattern for later station building.

“It is also understood to be the site of the world’s first integrated station hotel.

“After York’s current station was completed in 1877, the West Offices site was no longer used and fell into disrepair.”

It cost £32 million and 20 months to convert.

When it opened, then council leader James Alexander, said: “Not only will it help us realise significant cost-savings – more than £17 million over the next 25 years – but customers will be able to access more efficient, joined up services from one place.”