Blackburn with Darwen Council office rejig to cost more than £3.5m

Blackburn Town Hall
-Credit: (Image: James Maloney/LancsLive)


THE cost of reorganising Blackburn with Darwen Council’s office accommodation is set to top £3.5million. The figure is revealed in a report to the authority’s executive board meeting on Thursday by deputy leader Cllr Quesir Mahmood.

It says that so far £2.474m has been spent but another £1.027m is needed. Cllr Mahmood’s report says: “The council’s core office accommodation comprises Blackburn Town Hall, 10 Duke Street and The Bungalow at Davyfield. Up until recently, the Tower Block was included but the site is almost completely vacant at which point it will be deemed a vacant surplus asset. Over the last 15 years, the size of the council’s workforce has reduced significantly.

“In recent years, this has coincided with a change in working practices with agile and homeworking now both accepted ways of working. During this time, the council has undertaken various reviews, reconfigurations, and rationalisations of its core office accommodation both to ensure it remains fit for purpose but equally to reduce costs.

“This report provides an update on this work and sets out the next steps. As at March 31 2023, the expenditure incurred on the delivery of the most recent iteration of the office accommodation strategy (mainly the modernisation of Blackburn Town Hall) totalled £2.474m."

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Phase three of the works to Blackburn Town Hall was started during 2023/24 and a further three phases are currently planned. Combined, these works are expected to cost £1.027m. The report reveals that this would create a 'budget gap' of £260k and so the council's executive board is required to approve a transfer of these

£260k from the asset management strategy budget.

“Over recent years, there have been a range of changes including the refurbishment of Duke Street enabling the council to vacate three leased properties (the Exchange, the Innovation Centre and the Beehive); the modernisation (refurbishment) of Blackburn Town Hall so that it is possible to completely vacate the Tower Block; and the part refurbishment of Duke Street to accommodate the growth and development directorate following vacation of One Cathedral Quarter to provide space for a commercial letting.

“Aside from its use for council meetings and the council’s main reception point, investment in the Town Hall for core office accommodation needs to be viewed in the context that it is unlikely to be used for any other purpose. Further work will include ensuring there is an adequate balance between office accommodation, private and public meeting space and reviewing the reception area with a proposal for a flexible space suitable for public meetings (possibly as an alternative to Committee Room A on the second floor.”