Buckinghamshire Council aims to save costs through new Estates Strategy

Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet has approved a new Estates Strategy, which will see the council review their office accommodation inherited from the pre-unitary legacy councils. The plans propose a reduction in the council’s operational estate based on organisational need, which could lead to revenue savings of £2.4m a year and capital receipts savings of £4m. The council’s carbon footprint would also be reduced.

Realigning their use of office accommodation reflects the change in work patterns in a post-Covid environment, where more staff are now working from home for at least part of each week.

Key aims of the new Estates Strategy are:

  • Confirming The Gateway office in Aylesbury as the main headquarters of the council.
  • Moving staff from the Old Library into the Queen Victoria Road offices in High Wycombe.
  • Starting work on a masterplan to redevelop the Amersham office to deliver much needed housing in the town centre, with consideration given to maintaining a council presence in the town.
  • Surrendering the lease at the office in Denham.
  • Starting work on a masterplan for the Walton Street office in Aylesbury, with regeneration, development and possible sale, all options to be considered.
  • Continued commitment to ensuring face-to-face customer access to residents in local communities through the Council Access Points.

John Chilver, Cabinet Member for Accessible Housing and Resources, said:

“Our new Estates Strategy will see us review all our buildings across Buckinghamshire as part of an overall aim to make sure we are making the best use of our office buildings, and to ultimately provide the best value for money for residents. This was always the case once we became a new council with an estate inherited from five legacy councils.

“Our Estates Strategy will also consider how working patterns have changed since the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, our innovative Work Smart strategy has enabled our organisation to maximise the benefits of flexible working, whilst ensuring that we meet the requirements of our residents and continue to drive improvements in productivity. Our desk-based teams in particular balance the benefits of working in the office and collaborating with colleagues in person, with the opportunity to work at home and reduce commuting.

“These arrangements have become critical to the council’s ability to attract and retain staff within a competitive labour market. Our experience of this model of working over the past two years has provided us with a good dataset about our need for office space, and we are now in a position to bring forward proposals to reduce the size of the estate and the operational running costs.”