New green start for East Hants

Friday, 29 July, 2022

East Hampshire District Council will move into a more efficient, more advanced and more environmentally-friendly building in Petersfield, marking a new future for the council and the way it works.

The council decided on Thursday night (28 July) to leave its long-time base at Penns Place and move its headquarters into premises on Bedford Road, in Petersfield.

The building, currently called New Barn, will be cheaper to run, at around two thirds of the current running costs of Penns Place, and will reduce the council’s carbon footprint by as much as 75 per cent.

The move will also play its part in the council’s ongoing transformation to a modern, financially-sustainable stand-alone authority that can deliver the services residents deserve.

Cllr Richard Millard, Leader of EHDC, said: “This move is a win-win for us as an authority and for our residents and businesses.

“Not only is it cheaper to run and much more environmentally friendly its location is also more convenient for staff and will create more footfall in the centre of town.

“It is also vital that we see this as more than just a move from one building to another but as part of our overall efforts to improve our services and rethink the ways we operate.

“Penns Place has been our home for a long time, but it is no longer fit for purpose, it’s larger than we need and would cost a fortune to bring it up to an acceptable standard.”

The council intends to invest up to £1.7 million to improve IT, fit out the building and install environmental measures. The money will be drawn from reserves.

Staying at Penns Place would require significantly more ongoing investment to maintain its current standard.

Once complete the new premises will be a flagship for high environmental performance. Measures will include improved wall insulation and windows, more energy efficient lighting and heating, and photovoltaic solar panels.

Council officers will be encouraged to travel sustainably with green bike shelters and electric vehicle charging points. Local biodiversity will be enhanced with bird boxes, bat boxes and wildflower planting.

The environmental improvements are expected to cost around £500,00, which could be recouped through reduced energy costs in around 13 years.

Although smaller, the building will support the council’s new hybrid working style, which will see staff split their time between home–working and office-working, according to the needs of the role.

The goal for the new building is for a flexible, vibrant workspace which is functional, but also creates a positive space where teams and individuals can collaborate.

Around £200,000 will be spent on improving technology, including audio video equipment, to make hybrid working easy and effective.

New Barn, a modern, purpose-built office building, is already owned by the council, having been acquired in 2016 as part of its investment portfolio. The site was handed back to the council at the end of June 2022, following the expiry of the outgoing tenant’s lease.

Options are still being considered for the future of Penns Place.