Harrogate Borough Council reveals cost of new headquarters - three years after it was completed

Harrogate Borough Council has revealed the final cost of its new civic centre headquarters – three years after construction was completed.

The council moved into its new home on Knapping Mount in December 2017 after putting its former Crescent Gardens offices up for sale.

It said it had not been able to calculate the final build figure up until now as the construction company Harry Fairclough Limited went into compulsory administration.

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The authority revealed on Tuesday that the final build cost was £13,144,512, slightly less than the original budget of £13.15m.

Harrogate Borough Council's new headquarters at Knapping Mount during its constructionHarrogate Borough Council's new headquarters at Knapping Mount during its construction
Harrogate Borough Council's new headquarters at Knapping Mount during its construction

The council claims when other measures – including the proceeds from the sale of its former offices at Crescent Garden, Victoria Park House and Scottsdale House – are taken into account, the final cost of providing the district with a new civic centre comes £2.47m below budget.

It said this represents a “massive” saving to taxpayers, however, councillor Pat Marsh, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the council, disagrees.

She said: “It appears the council is using some very creative accounting in trying to claim this project was ‘under budget’, a budget that was always disgracefully high.

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“This project could have been achieved by remaining in Crescent Gardens and reconfiguring the inside and structure. All the council departments could have been accommodated on that site thus achieving the annual savings of £1m and retaining a much-loved public building. Instead we have a white elephant, a building that holds no civic pride.”

A report being presented to a meeting of the cabinet next week sets out the final assessed costs of the project.

It said Harry Fairclough Limited went into administration in July and that the council is working to resolve a number of defects with the building which the firm was contractually obliged to fix.

It said as there is “no realistic chance” of the defects being corrected by the company, cabinet members will be asked to approve the appointment of a contractor to do the work.

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Councillors meet to consider the office accommodation report on December 2.

Councillor Graham Swift, deputy leader and cabinet member with responsibility for resources, said: “Cabinet made a strong commitment to publishing the overall costs of the civic centre project, but this has not been possible before now while we worked with HFC to rectify several defects with the building that it was obliged to fix.

“That was complicated by the contractor being put into administration earlier this year. The fact that the office accommodation project is £2.5m under budget is a great result for the council tax payer of the district.

“Putting Covid-19 aside, if we had not embarked on this project, we would still be in five separate offices costing an additional £1m a year to run and requiring expensive and ongoing maintenance to make them habitable.

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“As it is, we have an amazing new civic centre which we can all be proud of, and we have achieved significant savings against the original overall budget in the process.”


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