Work is under way to transform a Leeds landmark into a state-of-the-art customer services hub and main office base for Leeds City Council and partners.
For 40 years, Merrion House has been the base for 1,200 Leeds City Council staff.
Today it lies empty, ready for a team of construction workers who will be busily overhauling it later this year now that the final agreements have been signed. The transformation – being done jointly by Town Centre Securities PLC and Leeds City Council – brings major advantages to the city.
The customer services hub will be a convenient first port of call for one million plus visitors per year, seeking help on a wide range of issues including energy advice, council tax and student support.
Partners such as Leeds City Credit Union and the Volunteer Centre Leeds will be part of a more integrated service working within a new fit for purpose space that will include self-service points and public facilities.
The new Merrion House is also going to be bigger – extended to 170,000 square feet of space. It’ll ultimately house 1,900 staff, 700 more than previously, achieved through new ways of working.
This is all part of ambitious plans to reduce the council’s office buildings in the city centre from 17 to 4, bringing long-term savings of over £15million. £1.5M has already been saved through early release of buildings.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said:
“This is a significant milestone in the ambitious project to transform Merrion House which will help it to become a key component in what is now a thriving and vibrant arena quarter.
“These improvements will complement the first direct arena and the Merrion Centre, supporting the continued economic and cultural growth of the area while helping the council to achieve significant savings.
“Once completed, Merrion House will also be a state-of-the-art base for some of the council’s key front-line staff which will allow us to deliver services in a more sustainable and cost effective way both now and in the future.
“Bringing these services all under one roof will also mean members of the public will be able to access what they need from us quicker and more efficiently.”
The new Merrion House opens early 2018. It will be the main customer hub and office base in the city centre, with Leeds Civic Hall, Enterprise House and St George’s House also retained.
During the Merrion House redevelopment, council officers have switched temporarily to other council buildings and this has been achieved without renting any additional space, saving around £9M of anticipated costs.
Merrion House will be owned jointly by Leeds City Council and Town Centre Securities PLC, as part of a long term joint venture (Leeds City Council is investing in 175 yr lease and then taking a 25-year sub lease).
Planning permission was granted in 2014. Redevelopment includes not only building works but utility diversions and highways improvements.
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