Council's £32m HQ set to win approval

LONG-AWAITED plans to create a new £32m headquarters for a Yorkshire council are finally due to get the go-ahead next week – almost two years after initial blueprints were abandoned following concerns from English Heritage.

The protracted saga of York Council's re-location to a centralised base is expected to move a big step forward when planning applications go before the authority's planning committee next Thursday where they are expected to be approved.

The scheme will see West Offices, which were built in the 1840s as York's original railway station and station hotel, transformed into the state-of-the-art headquarters.

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The company behind the project, York Investors LLP, is also planning to build a 120-bed hotel costing 10m on a section of the site which would bring 50 jobs to the city.

The firm's design manager, Chris Hale, said: "This is a landmark project which can provide a model of sustainable development and responsible urban regeneration for the city and the region."

The move to a new headquarters is aimed at slashing the council's accommodation costs. Having offices scattered throughout the city has sapped finances as half of its premises are leased and rents swallow up 1m a year.

The new headquarters will include a customer centre as well as business and staff facilities, and the overall project is expected to cost 43.8m.

The scheme has escaped the Government's public sector cutbacks as it will be funded by the sale of council premises and borrowing set off against the cost of existing rents.