Council offices built just seven years ago in a £35million makeover of the Keynsham town centre are set to get a £1.6million revamp.
Despite being among the most energy-efficient buildings in the country when it was finished, the award-winning civic centre is currently underused.
Bath and North East Somerset Council wants to capitalise on changes brought about by the pandemic that mean more staff are working from home.
A decision notice for the seven-figure investment says the civic centre will become the new hub for all the authority’s employees at Lewis House and St Martin’s Hospital, as well as most Guildhall colleagues.
On top of the £50,000 saving when it left St Martin’s Hospital last year, the council could secure £425,000 a year in rent from Lewis House and cut its costs by £172,000, while meeting online rather than in person could save it a further £400,000.
The cash injection in Keynsham Civic Centre will boost its capacity from 550 to 650, improve the design, provide spaces for private and confidential working, and add new artwork and graphics.
The decision notice, signed off by deputy leader Richard Samuel, says: “The capital business plan provides £1,655,000 of funding to deliver the redesign scheme for interior refurbishment works, including architectural design and fit out, furnishings, space planning and independent surveys and analysis of the building to determine what occupancy is acceptable within the currently naturally ventilated building.”
Giving the rationale for doing the work now, the decision notice says: “The council could retain the current office building estates and associated costs but would not be capitalising on the opportunity that the pandemic has presented us with.
“As a result of Covid the world of work is set to change on a permanent basis.
“It is recognised that organisations which proactively respond to the opportunities afforded by the pandemic and reorganise their arrangements, are most likely to have a more effective recovery.”
The council will look to adapt other work locations at the Guildhall, the fourth floor of Lewis House and The Hollies in Midsomer Norton to give staff a choice of location for bookable meeting spaces.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter