Council considers sale of Municipal Buildings

The traditional main office of Liverpool City Council could be sold under plans to reduce the number of buildings it occupies and adjust to budget cuts.

A report to the Cabinet on Friday 30 September is recommending that the 1860s Municipal Buildings on Dale Street be declared surplus to requirements and marketed for sale. The council faces having to make £90m of savings over the next three years.

The 130,000 sq ft grade two star-listed building has space for 1,000 staff but only 640 employees are employed there due to a significant reduction in the council’s headcount in recent years.

Under the proposal being considered, workers would be moved to other existing sites across the city such as Cunard Building at the Pier Head, Premier Court on Hatton Garden, Venture Place on Sir Thomas Street and Wavertree Customer Focus Centre on Wavertree Road.

The drop-in centre for residents and businesses based in Municipal Buildings will be relocated to a self-contained unit within the refurbished St John’s Market, ensuring that customers can still access council services in a central location. Consideration is also being given to putting other public-facing Government services in the facility to generate wider savings.

A back up data-centre which is based in the building and was due to be upgraded shortly will be moved to Cunard Building.

Cllr Malcolm Kennedy, Cabinet member for regeneration, said: “Municipal Buildings has been a magnificent home for Liverpool City Council since the 1860s, but it is a very costly building to run and maintain and we no longer have the staff numbers to justify retaining it.

“We want to find out the level of interest that there is from potential purchasers with a view to finding a long-term sustainable use for the site which will also create new jobs.

“This is a listed building and I want to reassure people that it will be protected and we will ensure that its future use protects its unique architectural features. We have already done this with other heritage buildings in the area such as the Municipal Annexe and Royal Insurance Building which have both been improved and brought back into use as four star hotels.

“The sale of Municipal Buildings will bring in money which we can reinvest in reducing the costs of our capital infrastructure programme, as well as delivering ongoing savings by lowering our overheads.”

The report is also asking for approval to renegotiate the lease or purchase the leasehold on Venture Place on Sir Thomas Street ahead of its expiry in March 2017.

If approved, Municipal Buildings will be marketed for sale in the autumn with the outcome brought back to Cabinet in due course for a final decision.

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It would be sad to see this building lost to Private hands. Surely the development of the car park to the rear would assist in making this site more viable? If the lease for Venture Place is up, cant’ that building be disposed?

By anon

Strangely enough I was paying a parking fine this morning and smiled to myself that the Municipal Building is still there and still a truly fantastic building left in the council’s ownership! Then this came through! This is awful news – it is all very well Councillor Kennedy saying that savings need to be made – but really – this? Surely that £90m wouldn’t be £90m if all the money hadn’t been wasted on the Cunard and getting it wrong. On refurbishing offices then selling them for hotels, Big Joe’s plans to deliver 12 schools – which probably weren’t needed but in for a penny in for a pound -when one schoool is lying empty in Speke (Parklands) at a PFI cost of circa £12m a year to the council. Esla Academy – fabulous facilities – no children going there. Kids being given Ipads at Esla just for attending etc. Please do not sell this building it is a landmark and a jewel in the crown. Just stop wasting money! You can only keep selling the family silver for so long before there is none left!

By Mary Smiley

There haven’t been significant cuts in the number of council employees from this building. Joe just moved a lot out to Cunard and 4 other buildings. Indeed unlike other councils almost all were voluntary redundancies in Liverpool. I agree Mary, they should look at all of the waste first.

By Emma R

Oh dear

By Mos

A lot more cost cutting to come in Liverpool

By Mozz

Sad, sad day for Liverpool. Joe spends money buying Cunard Building and then moves everyone there…Surely needs a petition…..or this will become student flats before long…..

By Craig Earley

Probably will end up as a hotel or flats and restaurant underneath if Sir Thomas St and Hatton garden anything to go by. Very sad and very ill thought out – but the argument will be what has been done is done – and we need to save money. That’s the party line we will be given!

By Bob Dawson

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