Collapsing property values have forced Birmingham City Council to re-think plans to build a six storey office block at Aston Science Park.
The building in Woodcock Street would accommodate 2,200 council staff and is part of a business transformation strategy to produce efficiencies by rationalising the local authority’s sprawling property portfolio.
Once complete, it’s claimed the programme will leave the city with a stock of modern, green and efficient buildings, saving £100 million over 25 years. But council leaders are investigating whether the recession might make it cheaper to continue renting existing buildings.
A business plan setting out the case for the Woodcock Street project was to have been approved by the cabinet earlier this year.
Financial projections are being revised as a result of the “current property market”, according to corporate director of resources Paul Dransfield.
Mr Dransfield told a finance scrutiny committee it made sense to re-examine the justification for a new building.
The Woodcock Street plan was meant to underpin the city council’s green credentials, but with only 78 parking spaces for 2,200 staff, it attracted criticism. The site is not on a bus route and negotiations are continuing with passenger transport authority Centro to see whether a special service can be agreed.
Scrutiny committee member Coun John Alden (Con Harborne) said: “To build offices in Aston Science park is wrong. This is a part of the city that is supposed to be reserved for research and development.
“Clearly, in these depressed times it could be cheaper to rent a vacant office block rather than spending a lot of money building a new block.”