Debate over future of council’s city centre civic offices

The Civic Offices in Guildhall Square
The Civic Offices in Guildhall Square
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CONSERVATIVE councillors have said Portsmouth City Council should consider revamping its ‘outdated’ civic offices.

The issue has been raised following the publication of the city centre masterplan, which put forward ideas for development and how Portsmouth could look in 20 years’ time.

Tory planning spokesman Luke Stubbs said building a smaller office on the same site and freeing up land for development is a possibility that should have been included in the plan.

He and his colleagues also fear that in years to come taxpayers will be landed with a huge bill for maintenance and repairs of the 1970s buildings.

Officers recently allocated £160,000 to replace the structure’s heating coils ahead of the winter – and they have been warned this could just be the beginning.

But cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development, Mike Hancock, said the administration had considered it but ‘the sums just didn’t add up’.

Cllr Stubbs said: ‘Quite a few of the sites included in the masterplan are more than likely never going to be redeveloped, such as the central police station.

‘But they were included anyway because it was looking at the possibilities for the next 20 years. With that in mind it is certainly possible we could build a smaller office and free up some land for development.

‘It should only be considered if it will actually save us money, but that building is close to 40 years old and it could cause us a number of problems in the years to come.’

But Cllr Hancock said even in the very long term it was not affordable to rebuild the council’s headquarters.

He said: ‘It simply doesn’t add up to knock that building down and rebuild it.

‘It is really down to cost, and when you are slashing £50m worth of cuts building a new office block is just not something the council can afford.

‘The ongoing maintenance and repair of that building will create problems but we will deal with them when they arise in the best way possible.

‘I bet the Tories wish we had included it in our masterplan so they could criticise us for it. But if they were in our position they would do exactly the same thing.’

The city centre plan is out to consultation. Visit to take part.