The former Culture Secretary told a conference fringe event that he will spend “some” of his time at the new Yorkshire base, but that “a lot of politics happens in Westminster” which will keep him and a chunk of party staff in the capital.
Speaking at a fringe event at the Manchester conference yesterday, Mr Dowden said of the move to Leeds: “We’ve got the office and it’s looking very nice, we’ve now got to fill it with people, so that process is going to begin later this year.
“Probably from November people will start working in the Leeds office and then we will have a formal opening with everyone in place early in the New Year.”
The northern headquarters will join the existing London office as the base for the party’s political operations, with staff split “roughly 50/50” between the two locations.
“That’s a bit over 100 for the Leeds one,” Mr Dowden said.
However, when asked if he would make the permeant move, Mr Dowden added: “I will spend some of my time there. But lots of politics happens in Westminster, basically.
“So as party chairman, the research function and the Press function are going to have to be predominantly in our London offices. We’re keeping Matthew Parker Street and we’re having a joint HQ with Leeds.”
Plans for the new office in Yorkshire were announced in the autumn of last year.