IT’S taken three years in planning and building work but the first phase of a pioneering council office refurbishment is complete.
Havant Borough Council has joined with Hampshire County Council to create a £13m one-stop shop for local people.
The renamed Public Service Plaza in Havant, now houses the county council’s children’s and adult services department for the Havant area.
Other organisations and charities including the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Victim Support and Havant Youth Council are also expected to move in.
The energy efficient, modern building, is expected to save around £100,000 a year on running costs and use 35 to 40 per cent less energy per square metre.
Before the refurbishment the building was used by only 200 members of staff but there are now 300 people in the building and that will increase to more than 750 once the final phase of building work is complete next year.
The idea for the partnership with the county council came from Councillor Tony Briggs, leader of the borough council, and Havant chief executive Sandy Hopkins.
Baroness Joan Hanham, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for communities and Local Government, was the guest of honour at the opening of the first phase yesterday.
She said: ‘I know people endlessly traipse round from one public building to another and can’t get the services they want under one roof.
‘To have not only the council but other public bodies under one roof seems to me to absolutely be the way forward and I’m so pleased that Havant has taken the mantle up.’
The refurbishment of the civic suite, which is used for council meetings, should be completed in November when it will be let out as a wedding venue. It is hoped the hi-tech suite will also be used by outside organisations for conferences.
The public atrium area includes an information wall with plasma screens, tables and chairs for informal meetings, a payment machine for things like council tax or parking permits, formal meeting rooms and computers with free internet access.
The refurbishment of back offices should be completed next summer.