HUNDREDS of jobs could be at risk after plans were revealed to convert an office building into flats.
A total of 215 jobs at the Department of Work & Pension’s offices at Roebuck House, Cosham, could potentially go as the department reviews its estates.
We were all really shocked because we were only told a few days ago that our jobs were definitely safe for another three years.Department of Work and Pensioners worker at Roebuck House
It comes after developer Caridon Holdings LLP submitted a planning application to convert the seven-storey tower into 113 flats, as reported in The News.
While the building has seen a staggered departure of businesses over the years, according to the Public and Commercial Services Union, it is still home to 215 employees from the DWP.
Sean Busby, manager of the Portsmouth PCS branch called the potential job loss as a ‘kick in the teeth’.
He said: ‘This is an attack on public services generally.
‘However, this news is a kick in the teeth for Portsmouth in particular following on as it does from the closure of the Land Registry in 2011, the running down of the dockyard and the announcement that HMRC in Portsmouth is moving to the London area in recent years.
‘PCS condemns the DWP in targeting Portsmouth for further job losses when it is actively recruiting in other parts of the country to do the work Portsmouth people are doing now.’
The proposal for the building has been submitted as a prior approval to the city council – meaning it does not need planning permission for the work to be carried out under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015.
Under the plans, it would be split into 47 studio apartments, nine one-bedroom flats and 57 two-bedroom apartments.
A worker at the building, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘We were told during a pre-planned visit by one of the bosses that the building could go by next March because a lease renewal was never signed. We were all shocked because we were only told a few days ago that our jobs were definitely safe for another three years.
‘Most people have been there more than 10 years – some have been there 40.’
‘It’s ridiculous that they could get away without signing the lease.’
A spokeswoman for the DWP said: ‘We are aware that the new landlord of Roebuck House has made a planning application to redevelop the site.
‘We are considering options for Department of Work & Pensions staff should we need to vacate the building.’