Civil Service to relocate 3,000 staff to Blackpool town centre
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More than 3,000 civil servants are to be relocated to a new £100m office development in Blackpool town centre it was announced today (November 10).
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has come to an agreement with Blackpool Council and partner Muse Developments to develop a new regional hub in Talbot Gateway.
It will result in DWP staff from existing sites at Warbreck House and Ryscar House moving into the Blackpool Hub and Centre for Health and Disability Assessment (CHDA) at Talbot Gateway when the new offices are completed in the autumn of 2024.
The DWP has signed a 25-year lease to occupy the highly sustainable, purpose built offices as part of a strategic plan to centralise civil service jobs in the heart of Blackpool.
The council has been negotiating this deal for several years as part of its stated ambition to rejuvenate the town centre by the introduction of high quality office developments that will create and protect local jobs, drive footfall and breathe new life into the retail economy.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, said: “Moving more than 3,000 DWP staff into this state of the art sustainable building in Talbot Gateway will drive footfall in the town centre and support Blackpool’s economic growth as the country builds back better from the pandemic.”
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Cabinet Office Minister, Steve Barclay, said: “We’re getting on with the job of levelling up across the whole country and it’s fantastic to see this new hub in Blackpool consolidating jobs under one roof and making the public estate more efficient.
“I know Blackpool well, having grown up in Lancashire, and I’m optimistic the town will see significant economic benefits with a new flagship town centre office space driving footfall and breathing new life into the economy.”
Today, Cllr Lynn Williams, the leader of Blackpool Council, described the agreement as “an historic moment” in the ongoing regeneration of the town centre.
Cllr Williams said: “We have been working on plans with our partners Muse to introduce a new Fylde Coast Civil Service Hub for several years and we are thrilled that DWP share our vision and are committed to this long term investment. The relocation of just over 3,000 DWP employees will bring considerably more footfall into the area, with a massive boost to local businesses, retailers, restaurants, cafes and leisure facilities, but also bringing new, high quality job opportunities for local residents.
“The Civil Service has been looking to combine and streamline its UK administrative functions into more modern, efficient, sustainable and fit-for-purpose hubs, in line with the principles of their own 2020 Vision. Talbot Gateway, Blackpool’s Central Business District, offers an ideal location, being highly accessible, well located and supported by excellent transport links.
“The sustainable location and the long list of environmental credentials and innovative design associated with this building, will also have a positive contribution to our climate emergency agenda and promote employee wellbeing.”
The circa 215,000 sq ft seven storey offices on a 2.4 acre site on King Street, is the third phase in the Talbot Gateway regeneration scheme. The offices will be located in a new leafy town centre square with new cycle and pedestrian routes, with storage for more than 100 bicycles to encourage cycling to work.
The offices will be within walking distance of a new tram interchange at Blackpool North Station.
The design of the building, by London-based Make Architects, will draw on Blackpool’s rich Art Deco architectural heritage.
The BREEAM ‘Excellent’ building has been designed to be ultra-low energy and as energy efficient as possible, with high levels of insulation, low carbon heating and cooling, and demand driven ventilation, helping to reduce the building’s overall carbon footprint.
The building’s inclusive design will also benefit from ground floor showers and changing facilities that commuters can use before reaching the upstairs offices, automatic doors, a large reception lobby, accessible tea points, meeting rooms, quiet zones and flexible activity spaces, and high, airy ceiling heights throughout.
The hub will replace the existing civil service buildings at Warbreck and Ryscar, both of which are under-utilised and in need of significant investment.
Mike Horner, development director at Muse, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming the DWP to Talbot Gateway with our latest sustainable building becoming its new home.
“This is a resounding endorsement of our collective commitment to bringing forward developments that offer tangible environmental and social outputs to benefit local communities. We’ve got some real forward momentum here at Talbot Gateway, as we work hard to build back better and further drive inward investment and opportunities right into the heart of the town.”
He added: “We’re focused with partners, as we repurpose and re-energise the town centre, by delivering developments that blend the town’s rich history with its aspirations for the future.
“We’re delighted to be playing an important role with the council in delivering the vision for building a better, more attractive and resilient Blackpool for the future.”
Outline approval for the development was granted by Blackpool Council in March 2021.