£59.6m Civic Centre move set for approval

Published: 23 May 2012 14:154 comments

READING Borough Council is set to approve a £59.6m move from the crumbling Civic Centre.

READING Borough Council is set to approve a £59.6m move from the crumbling Civic Centre.

A shortlist of more than 30 buildings has been whittled down by a cross party committee to RG2 (the former Yell building) in Queens Walk and Plaza West, in Bridge Street. The ruling Labour group will recommend the latter to a special meeting of the council on Tuesday.

The borough plans to buy the freehold from Barclays Nominees for £25.4m, funded through borrowing. The annual bill will be £3.17m, which includes £1.75m of repayments and £780,000 running and maintenance costs, with the total cost over 25 years standing at £59.6m.

Council leader Jo Lovelock said the Civic Centre has reached the end of its life, and added: "The Labour group has had a long, hard look at all the information and decided Plaza West is not only the cheaper option, but also more easily adaptable for the council's needs. In particular it has good public access."

The council would have to pay £29.3m to buy RG2, with annual costs of £3.6m and a total repayment of £64.3m over 25 years. To refurbish the asbestos-riddled Civic Centre, which costs £1.7m annually, the council would have to shell out £51.4m, costing a total of £93m over 25 years.

Cllr Lovelock said the council is determined not to let the Civic Centre site become a "no go" area once the council moves out, with plans to create public space and a performance area while a development partner is found. But a council report said plans to refurbish, rebuild or expand the Hexagon are unviable for the foreseeable future with a price tag of around £60m to replace it.

The council wants to move the Post Office from the ground floor of the Civic Centre into Broad Street Mall and hopes to open a nursery for the children of council staff at Plaza West. The council chamber could be moved to the Town Hall, which would require work to improve the acoustics.

Plaza West will accommodate all of the 985 staff who work at the Civic Centre and Foundation House and the cost of the move itself will be £3.75m, which includes furtniture removal and the overlap of running both buildings. If approved next week, the council aims to complete the move within 13 months.

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  • AbbeyHabit
    2 posts
    May 24, 13:38
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    See you allow comments on this but not on the rubbish lies you printed from the failed Reading West MP. Why? So embarrassed at your unprofessional behaviour? Mind you, Chronicle prints Salter's lies is hardly news is it?

    Recommend?   Yes 1     No 2

  • AlexGore
    Unregistered User
    May 24, 15:04
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    AbbeyHabit - As the reporter who wrote both stories, uploaded them to the website and decided whether or not to allow comments, allow me to explain.

    We enable comments on most stories but disable them by routine for active legal cases - eg. following an arrest or during a trial, tribunal or judicial inquiry, which is what Leveson is - and when they have a racial element.

    I turned the comments off for the Leveson/Salter story - which is merely a summary of written evidence submitted to the inquiry and available to the public on the inquiry website - but have since turned them on after the former Reading East MP, Jane Griffiths, asked for a right of reply.

    I am neither embarrassed nor do I believe that I have behaved unprofessionally.

    Recommend?   Yes 1     No 1

  • dickemery
    Unregistered User
    May 25, 05:16
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    why are these lazy flexi time never there pen pushers going to a posh building down town, when they encourging offices to reallocate out of town because of the ridicules road system causing traffic chaos, plenty of empty offices to be had, perhaps because there no macdonald nearby or they have to get up 30 minutes earlier to get there by ? ah thats ok there on flexi time does,nt matter, by all means have a shop downtown for everyday inquires but 99% of staff sleep behind the desk

    Recommend?   Yes 4     No 2

  • MikeRugby
    Unregistered User
    May 26, 22:38
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    Reading Labour announce Plaza West ahead of cross party vote.....WHY? Surely their Cllrs need time to consider ahead of the vote 29th May....or is the decision really just made by ONE person from the outset who makes sure everyone is on the same page including cllrs and officers....

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 0