Job centre moving into Falkirk's former BHS store
A new planning application for alterations to the shopfront of the former BHS store at Callendar Square Shopping Centre is a sign a temporary job centre is on its way.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is looking for permission from Falkirk Council planners to make the alterations at the vacant premises.
A temporary job centre in the former BHS store was initially supposed to be up and running this summer, but now it is scheduled to open at the end of October.
A DWP spokesperson said: “The revised date for the new temporary site opening in Falkirk will now be late October 2021. We are setting up temporary jobcentres during 2021 to deal with increased demand as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“These new jobcentres will provide services across the country where they are needed. They will increase capacity to provide tailored face-to-face support in a COVID-secure environment and help support more people back into work and progress into new roles.”
A previous planning application to change the use of the site – which had been lying empty since BHS closed down four years ago – was lodged with Falkirk Council on December 16 last year and was granted under delegated powers on February 25.
At the time the DWP stated: “We have seen, and anticipate further, increases in demand for DWP’s services due to the COVID-19 pandemic and need to be able to serve more customers to provide them with the support they need.
“We can confirm a new temporary site at the former BHS store in Callendar Square Shopping Centre has been identified as suitable space to open a temporary job centre and accommodate experienced and newly recruited Fixed Term Appointment (FTA) Work Coaches to deliver services to our customers.”
The store closed its doors for good back in summer 2016 – one of the 30 branches of the stricken high street brand which shut down throughout the UK – with 20 members of staff in Falkirk losing their jobs after administrators failed to find a buyer for the entire business.
Last year there were discussions about turning the BHS store into an “artisan food hub”, with Callendar Square Shopping Centre owners Cygnet Properties and Leisure PLC stating several parties had shown an interest in the possibility.