Published on 5th July 2023
Future options for the Municipal Offices – including sale on the open market – will be discussed when cabinet members meet on 11 July 23. They will then present options to Full Council on 24 July 23.
At the heart of the proposals:
- Future ways of working and supporting customers
- Commitment to preserve and protect the building so that it plays an active role in vibrancy of town centre
- Financial savings and a reduced environmental impact
The Municipal Offices have been home to the borough council for more than a century. To meet the needs of a modern local authority and with the move towards hybrid working arrangements, the offices are no longer appropriate for use by the council. The carbon footprint is considerable and the building is not accessible for those with mobility requirements.
The recommendations are:
- To sell the Municipal Offices on the open market
- Commission a development brief which will take a creative and conservation-led approach to any future changes to the building and its use, and its wider setting, and that of neighbourhood listed buildings
- On completion of the brief, invite bids for the development proposal
- Cabinet make final proposals to Full Council for a final decision on its future use and sale.
Cabinet member for finance and assets, Cllr Peter Jeffries said: ‘’For some time, we have had the long term aspiration to relocate to modern, more flexible office accommodation which meets both existing and future needs, improves customer experience and provides better value for money for the tax payers of Cheltenham. More flexible space will accommodate hybrid working, encourage colleague and partner collaboration and offer an improved, accessible experience for our customers. It will be a cheaper, more environmentally friendly space, which will better serve our town and protect tax payers’ money.
‘’It’s a common trend that councils are now selling their head office space and relocating into areas that a better meet their needs and those of the customer. We’d like to reassure residents that we will keep a presence in the town centre.
“Of course, we are aware of how important the Municipal Offices are to the town; it’s a beautiful building and our ambition is to preserve it in all its glory. We are absolutely committed to safeguard it, respect the heritage of its setting, while taking every opportunity offered by modern architecture, technology and new building materials. This will allow a development that improves its surroundings and creates space for future use, leaving an appropriate legacy.’’
It is expected that any sale will take 2-3 years before redevelopment would take place. During this time, the council will continue to occupy the space alongside a number of short-term let tenants.
Read the full report
The Municipal Offices (MO) is an iconic building which plays a prominent role in shaping Cheltenham’s town centre identity. As the long-standing home of Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC), it has a direct influence on a number of the council’s strategic objectives, from creating a collaborative working environment that attracts and retains top talent, through to maintaining an efficient cost base.
In a report to Full Council in April 2015, it was acknowledged that remaining in the Municipal Offices was not a viable option for the future. Since that date, the council has purchased a number of investment properties that could meet the operational requirements of its workforce in a reduced office ‘footprint’.
The CBC organisation and the shape of its workforce have changed significantly over the years, leaving the asset underutilised. Occupancy studies have established that the number of CBC employees that the building needs to accommodate is considerably less than at certain times in the past. The CBC operating model and accelerated adoption of hybrid working in a post pandemic world is not optimised by the condition and internal layout of the building. This has presented a timely opportunity to reflect on what the long-term purpose and uses of the MO building are so that it continues to play an active role in shaping a vibrant future for the town centre, while enabling CBC to remain financially sustainable.