Eden District Council has completed the purchase of Voreda House, Penrith, from the NHS — setting the scene for the council’s staff to be moved to a single site next year.
The purchase is described by Eden as a key part of its One Eden organisational transformation programme.
The council has plans to improve the building, in Portland Place, which will become its new base, and has commissioned 2030 Architects to create proposals for making Voreda House a carbon neutral and welcoming environment to work in and visit ahead of occupation in the summer of 2021.
“The property offers the Council the opportunity to move into new accommodation on a single site supporting flexible and modern ways of working,” said a statement issued on Thursday.
Virginia Taylor, Eden District Council leader, said: “I am delighted that at long last EDC’s ambition to have a single site has come to fruition — and with less expense, time delay, and disruption than a new build would have taken.
The move to Voreda House presents an exciting opportunity to co-locate with partners — and this is not a pipe dream, but under discussion — to create a new model of integrated public services for the area.
“It will provide greater value for money because the current buildings are extremely expensive to run, and it will enable us to get closer to our ambitious zero carbon goals.
“With local government reorganisation looking more likely than ever, this move to a fit-for-purpose building stands to protect both the locally-focused provision of services to residents of Eden and the jobs providing them — along with all the benefits to shops and other businesses.”
The council statement added that the authority was confident the future provision of services to residents of Eden would be better protected by moving to this integrated model, rather than remaining in its current offices in the town hall and at Mansion House, Penrith.
“Many related public services in Eden are geographically and functionally dispersed across Penrith and the wider area. Coming together under one roof will significantly improve the experience for many of the council’s shared customers by enabling them to deal with more complex and interrelated needs and circumstances at a single location, during a single visit.
“The council is being supported by the national One Public Estate Programme to turn this vision into reality and discussions are under way with a number of potential partners,” said the statement.
The move is not without controversy, with critics questioning its timing, as a possible Cumbria-wide move to a unitary authority system — which could see the abolition of some tiers of local government — is in the offing.