Hard-up Croydon rents out top floors of £140m council office

Cash-strapped Croydon Council is to rent out the top two floors of the world’s most expensive local authority offices, Fisher’s Folly.

Bernard Weatherill House signageThey reckon that the lodgers will contribute about £500,000 per year to the borough’s finances.

So at that rate, it will only take 200 years to recoup the £100million which Croydon rate-payers were over-charged for the building, which some misguided types insist on calling Bernard Weatherill House.

Croydon submitted a planning application last week for a new entrance to its “prestigious” and “architect-designed” office building, which including financing came in with a price tag of £140 million under the disastrous CCURV property joint venture between the then Tory administration under Mike “WadGate” Fisher and the builders John Laing.

No one at the council was available to answer whether the new entrance constitutes “poor doors” for the tenants on the 11th and 12th floors of the building, which is located in the town centre on Cost A Mint Walk.

Nor has the identity of the council’s lodgers yet been revealed, although council staff were informed on Friday of the “success” in finding takers for the office space in a special message from the council’s executive directors.

To let: Fisher's Folly's new tenants could be moving in within weeks

To let: Council offices Fisher’s Folly’s new tenants could be moving in within weeks

The building was designed by EPR Architects, who set-out, somewhat pretentiously it might seem, to “create a building for the community that transforms the traditional perception of council offices into that of a thriving civic centre”.

The upper floors of Fisher’s Folly have a relatively small foot print compared to the rest of the building, so seem unlikely to be suitable for a larger corporation or a university department, as Labour’s cabinet member for finance, Simon Hall, was enthusiastically suggesting more than a year ago.

Croydon’s developers, meanwhile, are unlikely to be overjoyed at the prospect of their local council using public funds to subsidise its entry to the commercial property market.

Since moving into Fisher’s Folly when it opened in September 2013, council staff have had to endure a leaking roof, and special automatic taps in the toilets which don’t turn off and have had a tendency to flood the floor. And despite the wide-ranging redundancies at the council, staff members have been forced to “hot desk”, largely because there are not sufficient desks and chairs to go round.

In their message to staff last week, the executive directors, led by Jo Negrini, failed to explain the costs of the new entrance nor how much will be spent on the relocation of council staff and the reworking of the remaining 10 floors. Nor did they mention whether the council will be taking in the washing for its new lodgers…

“At least the new tenants will get the best views,” mused one disenchanted staffer, “even if the expensive taps still don’t work.”


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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7 Responses to Hard-up Croydon rents out top floors of £140m council office

  1. Peter Rogers says:

    I’m glad it was ‘architect-designed’ as even without my expertise in local government I would have gone with that option rather than a bicycle repair man. The outcome seems sadly to have been about the same though

  2. Poor mites have a leaking Roof at least they understand how their Council Housing Tenants are feeling with leaking roofs, flooded Communal Hallways, and disrepair of properties they manage. If the Council have no money to manage BWH maybe they should down-size and move to more ‘affordable Home’ and sell BWH and give bacd to Rate Payers the money we all fell we had been rob off.
    £140m should of been used to improve current housing stock and build new Social renting homes for the people of Croydon and improve the environment. I am sure the Council could of found a New HQ within the complex of (if it ever arrives) New Westfield Shopping Mall. Now that be a money saver.

  3. Looking over the news from Croydon centre,on so many fronts,is so depressing.Far from the predicted rejuvenation and opportunity there seems to be an awful black-hole effect.I think that Croydon Council have been Phished:
    Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception:
    by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller
    (see chapters 9 and 10,particularly)
    I fear I know who will pay….the council tax payers,in money wasted….and the inhabitants,in opportunities foregone.

    I am reminded of The Wasteland: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust”.

  4. Hooray, Hooray, Hooray…..Croydon famous for something else apart from inept planning decisions, social unrest, dereliction and ennui….The Most Expensive Local Authority Offices Ever.

    What an honour….and why all the secrecy about the new tenants? If the rental charged is below that which commercial renters are asking then they are right to be concerned and angry but it is a canny move by the Council.

    Perhaps the same will happen once the ill-fated Westfield becomes available around 2025? There will be a good many empty, derelict, compulsorily purchased commercial premises available then and the Council could make a fortune renting them at well below the rentals charged by Westfield.

  5. I assume the people who move into this part of the building will be able to go to any of the other floors where council staff may have papers with personal information on – doesn’t this pose a risk to data protection of council residents?

  6. Rod Davies says:

    A jolly good idea to defray some of the costs, as long as the Finance Dept don’t use the money as a secret slush fund this time.

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