Work starts on Eden Council’s net zero HQ

Collinson Construction is aiming to hand over the refurbished Voreda House in Penrith to the council by the end of this year.

Voreda House was formerly an NHS building and was purchased by Eden Council in July 2020 for £1m.

Eden Council wants to transform it into a new headquarters, providing one location for staff to work from. Currently, staff are working in two locations: Town Hall and Mansion House, both of which the council has described as “outdated”.

The council hopes the Voreda House offices will go on to host the Westmorland and Furness unitary authority when the local authority is created in April 2023. The future location for the unitary authority’s headquarters has not been announced.

A council report from October showed the council had allocated £4.13m for the refurbishment, which will see Voreda House retrofitted to Passivhaus design standards and thus being net zero in operation. The government awarded the council £856,000 to assist with the sustainability efforts.

Part of the work includes removing existing cladding, a process that will begin in April. Other work includes improvements to the roof, replacing windows and installing new mechanical and electrical systems.

“As well as helping the local authority to deliver services more efficiently from a single site, this project will give an outdated building a new lease of life and a bright, low-carbon future,” said Collinson Construction managing director Robert Duxbury.

Eden Council Leader Virginia Taylor praised the plans.

“I’m delighted that the long-held aim of Eden District Council for a single site is now a reality,” she said.

“All the more so because, firstly Penrith can offer state of the art facilities to house increased local government jobs and services – just in time for the new unitary authority, and secondly because the building will lead the way in reducing carbon emissions.”

The project team for the Voreda House revamp includes 2030 Architects, Baker Mallett and Greengauge.

“We are very pleased to have contributed to the collaborative team effort which has taken this challenging, but unique net zero carbon project from an initial concept through to a start on site,” said 2030 Architects director Rob Hughes. “We hope many more commercial buildings can aspire to achieving net zero carbon operation and use Passivhaus as the design process to inform any refurbishment.”

Baker Mallett surveyor Stephen Jackson said: “Baker Mallett is delighted to provide quantity surveying and project management services for the Voreda House project to ensure the efficient and cost-effective delivery of this unique net zero carbon initiative for Eden District Council.”

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