The news that East Hampshire District Council is considering a move to smaller premises on the opposite side of Petersfield leaves the future of Penns Place up in the air.
Councillors and staff could operate from a smaller office block close to the recycling centre by September. Much work is done remotely now so the council can get by with fewer rooms.
Joff Lacey and Petersfield Post chief reporter Jon Walker consider the prospect of what would be an historic move and what might the future hold for the East of the town.
Statement from East Hampshire District Council
On Wednesday afternoon, the local authority attempted to downplay this move as a certainty but billed it as a green opportunity. Here’s its statement in full:
EHDC is considering moving to a new more central location and creating a ‘low carbon HQ’ as it strives to do everything it can to help tackle climate change.
The innovative council is already taking its green commitment to a new level by lobbying government to back its calls for zero-carbon homes to be standard in the district – and now it’s looking at making its HQ as green as possible too.
The council is currently looking at options for its existing offices at Penns Place – but meanwhile one of the buildings it owns, which has been rented until now, is going to be available in the summer.
The office, in Bedford Road, could be a fantastic opportunity for the council to relocate from the edge of Petersfield to a more central location and create a new base for the council just a stone’s throw from the town centre and the station.
The building is now being considered to see if it could be a viable option – while work continues to explore potential future uses for the existing offices at Penns Place.
Cllr Richard Millard, Leader of EHDC, said: “This could be an absolutely fantastic opportunity for us to create a new low carbon HQ that would be a really great place for our staff to work – and be far more accessible to our residents.
“It’s not a done deal but it’s definitely something we’re extremely interested in. I’ve shown my Cabinet colleagues around, as well as the Leaders of the other parties – and everyone is really impressed and excited.
“It is a state-of-the-art office which would be a far more collaborative and creative environment for our staff.
“If we go for it then we’re planning to work closely with staff and councillors to make it something really special and retrofit it so that it has the absolute top environmental standards and is as green as it can possibly be.”