A project to refurbish Southend-on-Sea’s Civic Centre building has reached completion.
The 13-storey building – which is home to Southend-on-Sea Borough Council – has been a focal point in the area since it opened in 1967. As part of a cost-saving initiative, the building was given a 21st century makeover after it was declared no longer fit for purpose in its former state.
Commenting on the decision to refurbish the building Councillor Nigel Holdcroft, Leader of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said:
“When we reviewed the operation of the Civic Centre in 2010 it was clear that costly maintenance work was unavoidable. We looked at all the available options including carrying out patching-up repairs, full refurbishment, a total rebuild and relocating to another site altogether.
“The all-party working party leading on the project concluded that urgent investment could not be avoided and the most cost effective approach was refurbishment of the existing facilities.”
Councillor Holdcroft added:
“This project has enabled us to deal with urgent maintenance issues and reorganise ourselves to reflect today’s modern working methods. By accommodating more of our staff in the Civic Centre and closing our four other sites we have significantly reduced our overall accommodation costs as well as our energy costs – helping us to meet our Carbon Reduction Commitment.
“Not only has this work reduced the increasing amount of urgent repair work necessary on an ongoing basis but it has also reduced the running costs of the building. The electric, heating, water and ventilation systems in the Civic Centre and the toilet facilities were all upgraded.”
Since its erection, the 1960s concrete framed Civic Centre building has become increasingly expensive to operate and maintain and was in urgent need of modernisation. Finally – after exploring every option – it was decided the best possible course of action was to completely refurbish the existing building in order to make the necessary improvements.
Benefits of the refurbishment include a major reduction in maintenance and revenue costs; significant savings through the relocation of staff formerly based at the Council’s four town centre sites; and the creation of a more user-friendly environment for staff and residents.
The project was also seen as a great way to kick start the much needed regeneration of Victoria Avenue, the thoroughfare used by the majority of visitors to the town.
Work began on the first phase of the project – the main tower – in June 2011 and reached completion in September 2012. Mace Plus were appointed as the main contractor on the project, whilst global built asset consultancy EC Harris were appointed to project manage and design the refurbishment works.
All work was conducted whilst Southend-on-Sea Borough Council staff remained in the building. Staff previously accommodated on the floors being worked on, were moved temporarily, and on a phased basis, to a nearby office. The Civic Centre now houses over 26% more staff than before the works started, allowing the Council to close a number of its more expensive offices around the town centre.
Councillor Holdcroft said:
“We wanted the Civic Centre to continue to be the focal point for Council services well into the 21st Century, but in the most cost-effective way possible. Original plans included the modernising and improvement to areas of the building used by elected councillors and council committee rooms, but this work was not as urgently required as the main tower and was phased to be completed on an open-ended basis as the economic climate improves.”
“It is imperative that we continue to review the way we do things to see if we can operate more efficiently and more effectively. These essential works to the Civic Centre have made the building more cost effective for many years to come as well as more user-friendly and efficient for customers and staff alike.”