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Suffolk Coastal Headquarters Accommodation Project

Art Commission for East Suffolk House

Suffolk Coastal moved to its new Headquarters in Melton in December 2016.

The move from the increasingly ageing offices at Melton Hill in Woodbridge is part of the Council’s aim to protect the tax payer, by downsizing to reduce the Council's running costs in the future and to give staff more efficient and modern facilities to work in.

The new purpose-built offices at Riduna Park have been built on a brown field site opposite Melton railway station.

The accommodation project was completed on time and under budget.

The move will importantly help the Council and the tax payer, save an estimated £200,000 a year in running costs, rising to £500,000 a year in the longer term.

The two buildings; East Suffolk House and the Annexe, provide open office spaces for Suffolk Coastal staff and includes a flexible and adaptable Council Chamber for meetings, making meetings more accessible to those who want to attend or wish to view them remotely.

accom main pic

Why has Suffolk Coastal moved from Melton Hill?

Melton Hill was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and was too big for the Council’s current staffing level.

We also wanted to significantly cut our running costs, leading to long-term savings for the local taxpayer.

Why not simply stay at Melton Hill and renovate that building?

Cost and good use of resources - the renovation work would be very expensive and we would still be left with an ageing building, with mounting maintenance costs and high running costs.

Disruption - it was estimated that the renovation work would take about two years. It was deemed impractical to expect the staff and councillors to function in what would effectively be a building site for an extended period of time. The service to local people would be disrupted as they would not be allowed to access a building site. Moving out to temporary accommodation is felt to be impractical, as it would be expensive and create extra disruption to the service we provide to local people.

New technology – the previous building did not allow us to maximise the use of new technology, to make the Council more efficient.

Wouldn’t it make sense to have a joint headquarters with Waveney?

No - Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils agreed in January 2017 to create a new, single 'super district' council, serving the residents and communities of east Suffolk, from Lowestoft in the north to Felixstowe in the south. This builds on the Councils’ partnership working since 2008 to increase efficiency and effectiveness, while reducing the cost of our services to the tax payer.

Both councils are committed to ensuring that East Suffolk is in the best possible position to respond to, and take advantage of, the emerging opportunities and challenges that they face. Part of providing a quality service to our communities is our ability to be responsive and deliver our services as locally as possible.

It is important that our communities can identify with their Council - so a joint headquarters would not be appropriate.

Also, experience has shown, people prefer their services to be accessible and be provided as locally as possible.

The geography and length of the east Suffolk coastline does not lend itself to having one administration centre at either end of the area. It would be too remote from a significant portion of the community, and travelling costs for councillors and staff would be prohibitively high.

This project is an investment in the future. Even if there was a unitary authority, it would still need service bases and having a modern, cost effective and sustainable building here is more likely to safeguard jobs in this area, whatever the future brings.

How much did it cost?

The total cost for the project has come in under budget at £5.5M. The cost of land acquisition and building new premises was £3.9m, which was met from existing resources. We will generate capital funds through the sale of both our existing headquarters and nearby Cedar House. The total cost for fitting out the new building, installing ICT, including the upgrade to facilities at Woodbridge Library cost 1.6M.

What about your commitment to a 'green policy'? 

The newly built headquarters at Riduna Park have been built with green features to reduce their impact on the environment - and reduce running costs. It is hoped that the new building will save Suffolk Coastal £70,000 a year in running costs, compared to their previously ageing head quarters at Melton Hill.

With the new building comes a newly developed Green Travel plan to encourage improved access to staff and the public through public transport, car sharing, cycling and environmentally-friendly travel routes and methods.

How environmentally friendly is the new building?

One of the main requirements of the new building is that it should be environmentally efficient, in that it will use significantly less energy than the previous headquarters and will meet modern environmental and sustainability standards.

The location of the Council’s new offices was a primary consideration. The chosen site is a brownfield site – so the site has been brought back into use on land that would otherwise be redundant industrial land.

What is access like?

Suffolk Coastal is committed to remaining accessible to local people, both through the more effective use of new technology to carry out transactions and through continued face-to-face contact, when required.

How will people get to your offices now that you have moved away from the town centre?

The Customer Service Centres within Felixstowe and Woodbridge Library are the key points of contact for the Council.

Both have been developed into one-stop shops for Suffolk Coastal. As well as tourist Information, you can also speak to members of the Customer Services team, who can help with a wide range of enquiries.

And, if you wish, we can also make an appointment for you to see staff from other Council services at the library, avoiding the need to go to the headquarters building. Private meeting facilities are available, if you want to speak about a confidential matter.

If you need to speak to a specific person or about a specific issue, please contact us in advance and make an appointment. That way we can make sure that we have the right person available, with the correct background information, when you come in to see us.

Does the move mean that the Councillors and your meetings become more inaccessible?

Now that we have moved, one of the benefits is that the new purpose-built accommodation will be better suited to our needs.

As well as having better facilities, the modern building has better access for disabled people, allowing them to attend meetings.

We also have a flexible and adaptable Council Chamber for meetings and have incorporated technology to make it more practical and user-friendly for members, staff and the public, making meetings more accessible to those who want to attend or wish to view them remotely.