Councillors plan to spend £19 million on a state of the art headquarters for themselves and hundreds of staff.
Land in front of the current Municipal Buildings in West Bridge Street has been earmarked for the local authority’s new home.
The project will deliver ‘fit for purpose’ offices - and save hundreds of thousands in rent, heating and maintenance costs every year.
A planning application for the four-storey build which will dominate the site currently occupied by NHS Forth Valley’s West Bank Clinic has been lodged and a 12 week public consulation exercise started.
Drop in sessions to explain the project in detail will be held in Falkirk Town Hall and Howgate shopping centre.
It is expected the council will consider the ‘feedback’ from the public in August before work clearing the site begins early next year. The build could start by spring with the offices ready by March 2017.
The crumbling condition of the complex which includes Falkirk Town Hall and the fact the leases on its two other main locations – Abbotsford House in Bainsford and Callendar Square One Stop Shop – are due to expire next year has made delivering a new HQ a priority.
Last February the council’s Executive considered a detailed report from the director of development services, Rhona Geisler, on possible ways ahead and agreed that a staged approach be adopted, making replacing the Municipal Buildings at its current location the number one goal with a new town hall – potentially re-located to a town centre site – to follow.
She told councillors: “The council aims to improve the quality of life for local people by working with its communities to best deliver high quality accessible services. In order to fulfil this aim it requires to develop service provision, its staff and its property asset base.
“The age, condition, suitability and sustainability of the existing Municipal Buildings, civic and town hall accommodation are key issues previously identitified as urgently requiring to be addressed.
“The business case prepared identifies that delivery of the project is feasible and would address the council’s aim to rationalise its existing assets and provide a modern office headquarters facility better suited to its service requirments in the future.”
It currently costs the council £1.8 million a year to run the Municipal Buildings, Abbotsford House and Callendar Square. The rent bill alone is £750,000 a year.
The plan is to relocate over 500 staff as well as its IT experts to the new building with a new One Stop shop to be opened in the town centre.
The new-build will cost £15.6 million, but the final bill will rise to £19 million after the cost of buying – and demolishing – Westbank Clinic and creating a new road system on West Bridge Street is added.
The council intends to borrow up to £16.6 million to fund the project but expects to bank around £2.5 million from the sale of the remaining land for housing.
While the final design is still to be agreed, the aim is to create a modern open-plan building which will create a link with the town centre. It is likely to feature a plaza at the front and landscaped area at the back.