How come Croydon Council spent £50m more than Brent on its new HQ and got less for it?

Croydon Council new £140m HQOver the last few years Croydon Tories have been telling the public what great value for money they achieved when building their £140 million new HQ, Bernard Weatherill House. Or how spending £3 million on new chairs and tables for all staff, regardless of how old the previous furniture. Croydon Tories argued that by selling old buildings like Rees House in Addiscombe, and moving all the staff in to one central greener building they will save £2 million a year on running costs for the foreseeable future. All rather laudable but sadly the evidence is that Croydon has overspent by about £50million, and as a result has missed the opportunity to save another £2m a year that other boroughs, such as Brent Council, have achieved.

New Brent Council headquarters at Wembley

New Brent Council headquarters at Wembley

Brent Council spent only £90m on their building for which it has won two awards: Britain’s greenest building, and Britain’s best corporate workplace. Not only does it house Brent Council staff, it has a library, council chamber, and community space. Brent also used the building a lynchpin of their regeneration of the area around Wembley stadium.

What does this mean for the people of Addiscombe? Croydon Council has built an expensive building that costs around £50 million more than it should. If it had spent around Brent’s level of expenditure this would have meant Croydon Council saving another £2million a year, and wouldn’t be selling off old council office blocks, such as Rees House, to private developers with minimal affordable housing provided. Instead Croydon could have used this land to help tackle the housing crisis in Croydon, where families on ordinary income are priced out of the housing market, to buy or rent.

Old Social Services Building which is to be sold off to pay of £140m debt to build new Council HQ
Old Social Services Building in Addiscombe which is to be sold off to pay part of £140m debt to build new Council HQ

What is so disappointing about the Croydon Council new building is that it is also a soulless building with no architectural merit. It a large warehouse of an office block, which adds little to the Croydon Skyline, and which has had no impact on the long-term regeneration of Croydon, and of course, it cost £50m more than it should have.

About Sean

Councillor for Addiscombe Ward, 1994-2006, re-elected in May 2010 along with Mark Watson and Patricia Hay-Justice. Since May 2014 Chair of Scrutiny. Lives locally in Addiscombe.
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