Anybody who has walked or driven along Engineers Way (adjacent to Wembley Arena) recently will have seen the foundations of our new Civic Centre being successfully laid. The building site itself is now a hive of activity with more visible signs of progress becoming apparent with each week that passes. The project is bang on target to be completed in December 2012 with staff from all departments starting to occupy the building in March 2013, ie less than two years from now.
We have now set up Departmental Move Action Teams to help plan the move and we will soon be appointing a dedicated project manager to oversee the transition process in conjunction with Aktar Choudhury and his hard-working programme team. We have already looked at detailed issues around furniture types, internal and external signage and colour and how we can best animate the building to ensure it is a lively and inviting venue for a wide variety of community and cultural activities. This exciting building will certainly not be just another boring office block - we intend it to be the throbbing heart of multi-cultural Brent.
Later this year, we will be inviting staff to try out various 'model office' formats to help us decide what will work best. Our watchword will be 'flexibility' - this building will need to serve many different uses and audiences so it will need to be adaptable in every sense of the word. Working conditions for staff and councillors will be better than anything currently on offer with a modern open plan environment, informal break-out areas and much improved customer reception space. There will be loads of meeting rooms of all sizes and a fantastic range of community facilities for local groups and commercial hirers.
Our new Civic Centre is entirely self-funding and will not cost the Council Tax payer a single additional penny. By vacating at least 14 separate sites and buildings, we expect to save between £2 - 4 million a year in revenue costs and we are increasingly confident that we will be able to generate substantial amounts of new income by letting out the facilities for part of the time for commercial events such as corporate hospitality and product launches for example.
The new building is physically taking shape very quickly but this means we must also accelerate our thinking and planning about how we use the building. Work is under way on the future customer service offer, on maximising the use of IT and flexible working arrangements and on the engagement of a range of partner organisations. There is a lot to think about but also much to anticipate as we think about occupying a fantastic new building that embodies everything that the One Council programme stands for.