December 5 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
THE development of Landmark House on the edge of Ipswich as offices for the county council and police authority cost more than £20 million.
That is £6 million more than the original price of refurbishing the 10-year-old building – but the cost of the overall project has come in £6 million below budget after plans to buy and refurbish a second building near the town centre were abandoned.
The original cost of the project involved the purchase and refurbishment of Landmark House near Asda in north west Ipswich and St Edmund House in Rope Walk near the town centre.
The total cost of that project was £26.6 million – of which the purchase and refurbishment of Landmark House was expected to cost between £11 and £14 million.
Before work started, the decision was taken not to go ahead with the St Edmund House part of the project and concentrate entirely with the Landmark House site.
This pushed the cost of Landmark House up to £20.2 million. The only extra cost still to come in is faced by the police who still need to open a new office in Ipswich town centre to replace the Elm Street station which is now nearly completely empty.
The move has enabled the county council to move out of five other offices – some will be sold and the lease on others will be surrendered.
As well as moving out of Elm Street the police are also closing other offices.
The move is expected to save the two authorities £1million a year between them – an increase on the £500,000 annual saving that had been anticipated when they had planned to refurbish the two buildings.
The figures are expected to be published by the two authorities today to answer concerns about the cost of the project which has been controversial since it was first proposed two years ago.
Liberal Democrat finance spokesman Andrew Cann has expressed concern that the Landmark House element of the project cost much more than originally planned.
The council’s figures are expected to show that the additional elements built at Landmark House after St Edmund House was abandoned – including an evidence store and a centre for interviewing members of the public – pushed the bill up by £3.2million.
Mr Cann has said this means Landmark House cost £3 million more than it should.
County councillor with responsibility for Suffolk’s property holding Lisa Chambers said the two authorities were satisfied they had achieved value for money.
She said: “I think we have worked incredibly well with the police and we have managed to find more savings by bringing services together.
“We have got trading standards officers working alongside the police – and by working well together we are able to drive down costs. The savings are much more than originally proposed.”
Suffolk’s new police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore is also happy about the project.
He said: “The long-term financial benefits that will be made for Suffolk are substantial, and while the project has been fast-moving and has had to adapt to our needs, I am delighted that we have achieved our goal of delivering significant year-on year savings.”