Hart District Council is in talks with potential occupants of spare rooms at the civic offices with the aim of making savings of £500,000
Hart District Council is looking to lease out spare rooms in its civic offices in a bid to save £500,000.
Two charities, the police and an advisory public body are being considered as potential occupants of the building in Harlington Way, Fleet.
Patricia Hughes, corporate director at Hart, described the civic offices as a "significant asset to the council".
She said: “With the withdrawal of the potential development partner in February, this opened an opportunity to further expand the use of office accommodation within the civic offices, seeking to make best use of the ‘public estate’ while reducing overheads.
“Further to a series of discussions regarding the space available, four organisations are seeking to agree ‘heads of terms’ on leases for occupation of parts of the building.”
In 2011 the council was approached by a potential retail developer with a view to establishing whether it was feasible to redevelop the area that comprised the civic offices, library, The Harlington and Gurkha Square.
A feasibility assessment was funded entirely by the retail development partner but concluded that in the current economic climate this particular development opportunity was not viable.
The council currently shares the civic offices with the Citizens Advice Bureau, Hart Voluntary Action and Inclusion Hampshire and it costs £314,000 annually to maintain.
Potential community groups to lease a room include Andover Mind, which provides advice on mental health and which has been leading on initiatives such as the dementia friendly high street in Fleet.
The other Hampshire charity, Skills Quest, helps young people gain life skills for future employment.
Hampshire Constabulary and ACAS are the final two groups being considered to lease out space. Certain changes, such as having partition walls, will be required to enable the space to function effectively for their services.
Mrs Hughes said: “Having reviewed the different requirements of the four organisations the council can accommodate each new occupier without impinging on the council’s operation, or the operation of pre-existing occupiers.
“Impact on reception and post service has been discussed with each organisation and is considered to be limited.
"However, should there be a significant workload on these services, in particular in relation to the police, this will be subject to separate negotiation.”
The combined income from each of the organisations is about £500,000 over a five-year lease period.
If approved, the council would not charge Andover Mind or Skills Quest any rent, effectively subsidising their occupancy of the council offices.
The police would be charged a slightly reduced rent reflecting the partnership approach and synergies that are achievable through effective joint working with the council’s community safety team.
ACAS would be charged a commercial rent.
The proposal was agreed by Hart District Council’s cabinet on September 5. Now negotiations with all four organisations will proceed.
The final approval of the leases will be provided in writing by the council’s portfolio holder in consultation with the corporate director, Capita Symonds and legal services.