Leeds City Council staff have completed a move back into Merrion House after an 18-month refurbishment to the ten storey office block in partnership with Town Centre Securities (TCS).
The refurbishment was completed recently with the opening of a new city centre customer hub. The hub, on the ground floor, incorporates enquiry positions, meeting rooms, self-service points and waiting areas combining public access to all main council services with additional partner services.
Merrion House has been home to council staff since 1973 and is part of a plan to reduce the number of council buildings in the city centre from 17 to just four and bring all public-facing services under one roof. The ten-storey building is jointly owned by leading Leeds based property investment and car park operator TCS and Leeds City Council under a unique long-term partnership.
Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We are gradually redesigning our buildings and the way we work to meet the needs of our customers and enable joint working with our partners.
“This city centre office consolidation will create £27m savings over 25 years and also generate significant capital receipts for buildings we no longer need.
“It’s rewarding to see that our partnership approach to this refurbishment has been recognised by being shortlisted in the Constructing For Excellence awards and recently won the ‘Best Inclusive Building’ award at the West Yorkshire Local Authority Building Control Excellence Awards 2018.”
Over 2,000 staff, including some from West Yorkshire Police and Leeds Community Health Care, will be based at Merrion House bringing the city centre office workforce to 2,570 people working from 1,827 workstations across Merrion House, Leeds Civic Hall, St George House and Enterprise House. Reductions to numbers of desks have been achieved through hot-desking and flexible location working. Skype enabled meeting rooms to connect colleagues wherever they are working, reducing travel time, pollution and improving work-life balance.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “This city centre refurbishment and public space remodelling has allowed us to address the dual challenges of improving services while reducing the number of city centre buildings.
“These plans are also part of our commitment to making public spaces in the city centre, wherever possible, look more attractive, welcoming and people-friendly. This is a clear move away from the stale and dated concrete and traffic-first look and feel of the 1960s, seventies and eighties.”
Designed to be inclusive with accessible meeting rooms, toilets, break out areas and wellbeing space, by BDP architects and delivered by the main contractor, BAM Construction, Merrion House now provides approximately 170,000 square feet of office space including an increase of 50,000 sq ft thanks to the new six-storey extension.
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities said: “We look forward to welcoming an estimated 1,000 people a day to our city centre hub which has moved into its new home in Merrion House. The Hub provides a range of important council services in one modern and convenient setting.”
Edward Ziff, chairman and chief executive of TCS, said: “Merrion House forms a key part of the continued multimillion pound investment and regeneration of Merrion Centre and the surrounding Arena Quarter area. The public-private partnership approach between Leeds City Council and Town Centre Securities has been a huge success for all involved and we’ve been pleased to play our part in supporting the council as it evolves its services with significant operational cost savings.”