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