Agenda item

Update on Council Owned Sites in Wood Green

[Report of the Director for Customers, Transformation and Resources. To be introduced by  the Cabinet Member for Finance and Strategic Regeneration]


This report updates Cabinet on the work underway to develop a long-term strategy to make the best use of Council owned sites in Wood Green and describe the impact of the current Covid 19 pandemic on the programme.


This report will set out a timetable for decisions to be made about Council owned sites in the medium term.



The Cabinet Member for Finance and Strategic Regeneration introduced the report which set out the work underway to develop a long-term strategy to make the best use of Council owned sites in Wood Green and described the impact of the current Covid 19 pandemic on the programme.


It was noted that , prior to Covid 19, work was underway to prepare a business case for redeveloping the Library site to include a new library and customer services, office accommodation, and potentially additional services including democratic space and a Leisure Centre. The Council had also been considering longer term options for the Civic Centre, keeping in mind its listing, as part of the accommodation strategy.


The Cabinet Member outlined that the Covid 19 crisis has meant that the Council has had to take a step back and pause while the longer-term effect and requirements were reviewed. This was possible now with the recent acquisition of Alex House which met the Council’s short- and medium-term accommodation needs.


It was noted that from consultation with residents, businesses and stakeholders, there was interest in changing Wood Green. The Council was a major landowner and needed to play a key role. The report set out pending decisions about Council accommodation property in the town centre which could lead to better use of Council land to support existing and new communities. The report further set out a timetable for decisions to be made about Council owned sites in the medium term.


In response to questions from Cllr Ogiehor and Cllr Mitchell, the following information was provided:


  • In relation to the timelines for hoardings remaining on the Civic Centre site, these could in place until 2024 to allow the required internal and external works to be undertaken on the building.


  • With regards to considering the future use of the Civic Centre site and allowing community groups to hire use of the rooms, this would be considered as part of the accommodation strategy and the specific work on locality with partners. This included considering opportunities for partner organisations and businesses to co-locate. It was hoped that the Civic Centre could be used to facilitate community groups, council use, civic duties, and meetings.



  • The Cabinet Member was not aware of any specific issue concerning the wider surrounds of George Meehan House as indicated in appendix 2 of the report. There had been longstanding concern about the physical state of an adjourning building and a further building at back of the site which backed onto the car park of the premises. Additional information about the assessment of this issue could be provided by the Director for Customers, Transformation and Resources.



  • With regards to Blue House Yard, there were a number of works that needed to be completed and the Council were engaging with users of the site. The Council were taking forward several ‘meanwhile’ use projects to ensure that businesses thrived. It was hoped that the work on Blue House Yard provided the businesses with as much support as required.



  • With regards to expenditure on River Park House accommodation and overall consideration of the Councils buildings in Wood Green, the purpose of the report emphasised  that it was good business sense to review the accommodation plans that the Council had prior to Covid and the Council were already in the process of commissioning feasibility work to be completed on sites.



  • Due to Covid 19, Councillors were not able to visit other boroughs which had completed a review of their accommodation. However, there were plans for an all member briefing which would provide further information to be shared.



  • There were further floors on River Park House that needed to have works completed and although this required resources to be applied when the overall future of the building was not yet agreed, it was still important to take forward this work as the Council had a fiduciary duty to ensure that all assets and resources were used in an appropriate manner.



  • Essentially the attached report was, at this stage, providing officers with the opportunity to carry out a review and consider the various buildings within the Wood Green area and how the council can use them as well as put them to better use.



  • The Cabinet Member for Local Investment and Economic Growth commented and gave assurance that he fully understood the support that would be required to businesses in Blue House Yard and he had taken forward engagement activities with the business holders, including highlighting access to the discretionary business grant support . He was happy to work with the Cabinet Member for Finance and Strategic Regeneration and Officer team to ensure that the long-term future of Blue House yard, either on this site or on a similar site.





  1. To note the timetable for consideration of the accommodation strategy by Cabinet.


  1. To note the action being taken now to temporarily protect the Civic Centre pending a decision about future investment.



Reasons for decision


In July 2019,Cabinet agreed to the principle of consolidating Council accommodation in Wood Green and work has been progressing to develop this in detail including a possible new building on the Library site and options for the Civic Centre and whether to retain it for Council use.


However, since July 2019, a number of events have taken place which mean that the business case for new accommodation needs to be reviewed, including the recent acquisition of Alex House and Covid 19 experience which has changed some of the assumptions which fed into the business case about accommodation requirements.


The condition of the current corporate buildings in Wood Green varies from fair to extremely poor. It is anticipated that should the Council decide to consolidate to one or two buildings, this will take 5-7 years to deliver in full. Therefore, a review is taking place of occupation of existing building and of short to medium term investment needs to make sure buildings are fit for purpose for that period, and a study of opportunities to vacate some buildings and potentially realise commercial income.


This report sets out a summary of the high-level medium-term strategy for Council owned sites in Wood Green and a timetable for decisions relating to each site.


In March 2020, the Civic Centre was closed for safety reasons. It is necessary to prevent further damage to the Civic Centre by protecting it pending works to repair it, this report sets out the immediate protection measures which are being carried out.


Alternative options considered


Reports which are for information or noting and do not involve any actions being agreed do not require this section to be completed.


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