[Report of the Director for Housing, Regeneration and Planning. To be introduced by the Cabinet Member for Finance and Transformation]
This report requests that Cabinet agree to enter into contract with the Multi-Disciplinary Design Team for the design and refurbishment (and extension) of the Council owned, Grade II listed Civic Centre. In addition delegated authority is sought to the Assistant Director of Property and Capital Works to submit Planning and Listed Building applications during the design process.
The Cabinet Member for Finance and Transformation introduced the report which provided an update on the Civic Centre project following the decision in December 2020 by Cabinet to proceed with the project to repair and refurbish the listed Civic Centre to bring the building back into use. Approval was also sought to proceed with design work on the refurbishment and to award a contract for RIBA stages 2-6 design work.
The Assistant Director for Capital Projects & Property advised that the project would aim to meet this highest levels of sustainability in all areas, including the appointment of contractors.
The Cabinet Member and officers responded to questions from Councillor Ogiehor:
- This report was not making decisions on the future of other council buildings. The other accommodation strategy would be reviewed and reported to Cabinet in a separate report.
- A further report would be provided with costings once the design work had been carried out.
- Initial feasibility work on the site had concluded that having a mix of housing and civic buildings was not the most efficient use of the site.
Further to considering exempt information it was,
RESOLVED that Cabinet
1. Agree to proceed with the design work on the refurbishment of the Civic Centre, including the provision of an annex extension, based on the feasibility work completed since the December 2020 cabinet decision to explore this option.
2. Note that a report will be brought to Cabinet in January 2022 for the following:
(i) decision on whether to proceed with the Civic Centre, including an annex option, informed by the final full business case, once further design work outlined in recommendation 3.1 has been completed;
(ii) approval to award a contract for preparatory works to the Civic Centre. These works are independent of the above decision about whether to include an annex option, as they are required to deliver a refurbishment of the existing Civic Centre for the Council’s accommodation use and are in accordance with the decision taken by Cabinet in December 2020
3. Approve the award of a contract to Hawkins Brown Ltd for the maximum sum of £3,110,999.89 for RIBA stages 2-6 design services for the Civic Centre refurbishment project and annex project, in accordance with contract standing order 9.07.1d. Noting that should we not proceed with the annex option at any stage during the design development; then the project fees will be reduced accordingly.
4. Approve issuing Hawkins Brown Ltd with a letter of intent prior to the formal contract execution. The letter of intent will represent ten per cent of the total contract value and will not exceed £311,099.99.
5. Notes that the Hawkins Brown Ltd. contract sum will be reduced if Cabinet decide not to proceed with the annex building as part of the Civic Centre project. If Cabinet does not decide to proceed with the annex building the Hawkins Brown contract will be revised to be based on a percentage of the construction value of the existing refurbishment.
Reasons for decision
The decision taken by Cabinet in December 2020 to invest in the Civic Centre provides for the quickest delivery of high-quality Council Civic headquarters in Wood Green. This decision was made in the context of the Civic Centre’s listing and the need to spend a significant sum on the building in any case to protect it. It was known that not all of the Council’s accommodation requirements could fit into the existing Civic Centre with moderate additional space agreed and that in order to allow genuine focus on expanded community use it was agreed to do feasibility work to assess whether an annex or extension on the Civic Centre car park site would enable the Council to better meet Council and residents’ needs.
So far, the feasibility work is showing that an annex could provide the Council with a building to be proud of, as the heart of Haringey’s democratic and civic life; providing all its headquarters office accommodation on one site and scope for truly open public and community uses as well as being the most cost-effective option open to the Council. It is proposed to continue to the next stage of the project on this basis. Extending the Civic Centre could also contribute to the Council meeting its sustainability targets through improvements to the existing listed civic centre building, the new build elements and through, over time, releasing inefficient buildings currently in use as offices. The annex option should save the Council money over time. It would also allow future plans for the regeneration of Wood Green to be developed separately.
The report recommends appointing the multi-disciplinary design team for RIBA Stages 2-6, with Stage 2 Concept Design continuing on both the existing building and the proposed annex between now and January 2022. A further report will be brought to Cabinet in January 2022 which will allow for a further ratification of the annex option, with more information about the design and costs of the project being available at that stage. By this time, more work will have been done on the Council’s future working styles and locality presence which will help firm up the accommodation requirements and the decision about whether to continue with the extended project.
Alternative options considered
Following the decision in December 2020, to restore, refurbish and extend the Civic Centre and bring the building back into use by the Council as its new Headquarters and Civic functions building, feasibility work has continued to assess options for the Car Park site and whether it would be suitable for Council accommodation. Housing and mixed housing and office options have been tested but not progressed further because the combined uses do not work well on the site and the number of housing units which could be delivered on site is lower than originally envisaged and the start of a housing project would need to be delayed until after the Civic Centre project.
The alternative to the Civic Centre for the remaining Council accommodation requirement would be retain a building on Station Road. To allow comparison, retaining Alexandra house has been used for the initial assessment as an alternative to further extending the Civic Centre. This option would mean a split site headquarters, therefore will not achieve the same cultural ambitions of the Council. It is also not possible to achieve the same level of sustainability with a refurbished building than with new. Additionally longer term use would constrain future plans for Station Road. Finally, the financial appraisal so far suggests that in the long run an annex option is more cost effective and will deliver savings to the Council. However, this alternative option, whilst not ideal, is feasible and will be included in the business case to be considered by Cabinet decide in January 2022