LONDON BOROUGH OF CAMDEN WARDS: Kings Cross and
The Next Phases of the Camden Property Strategy (FIN/2008/21)
Director of Finance
FOR SUBMISSION TO: DATE:
Resources and Corporate Performance Scrutiny Committee 24th June 2008
The Executive 25th June 2008
SUMMARY OF REPORT:
This report considers the Camden Property Strategy programme to achieve a fit for purpose
portfolio, improvements to customer services, reductions to on-going costs of accommodation and
the creation of sustainable efficient high quality buildings to serve the Borough’s customers in the
The report seeks Executive approval to the next stages of the Camden property strategy including
an asset area review programme and further improvement of the Council’s office accommodation
and services to the public at Kings Cross.
Local Government Act 1972 – Access to Information
No Documents that require listing have been used in the preparation of this report.
Assistant Director Finance & Head of Property Services
Room 204e, 2nd Floor
Argyle Street Extension
Telephone: 020 7974-1604
1. Members of the Resources and Corporate Performance Scrutiny Committee are asked to
note the contents of this report and make comments upon the proposals.
2. Members of the Executive are asked to approve the:-
2.1 Principles of the Camden Property Strategy.
2.2 Area review programme as defined in Section 4 of this report.
2.3 Preparation of a full scheme and submission by the Head of Property Services of a
planning application for the conversion of the Camden Centre to provide a customer
access centre and staff accommodation as referred to at paragraph 6.4.
2.4 Marketing of the Town Hall Extension building to identify a potential development partner.
2.5 Addition to the capital programme of the capital schemes identified in 12.2
2.6 Presentation of a further report back to the Executive with a financial appraisal in regard to
the Town Hall Extension and the Camden Centre proposals.
1. The Council has a strong Corporate Asset Management planning base having
achieved the top score in the Central Government assessment under the
category - Use of Resources. There are always opportunities to further improve
and this report seeks to update the principles of the Corporate Property
Strategy, to confirm the importance of the portfolio in supporting delivery of the
Council’s services and to suggest a revised strategy for the on-going review of
property performance. The report also proposes the next phases of the Kings
Cross Office accommodation strategy to improve efficiency, economic life and
provide clear modern access to services for the Borough’s citizens.
2. The Principles of the Camden Property Strategy
2.1 The Council owns a significant portfolio of land and buildings. The portfolio has
undergone change over recent years, including rationalisation, disposal and
review initiatives. An action plan is now proposed to realign the programme in
response to the current requirements of:
(a) the Council’s Corporate Plan priorities;
(b) Camden’s sustainable Community Strategy 2007-2012;
(c) the Customer Services Transformation Programme (with emphasis on
the physical access strategy);
(d) the flexible working programme.
This will have particular focus upon:-
higher performance civic accommodation;
review of under-performing assets;
capital receipts for reinvestment in the Council’s priorities.
2.2 The Property Strategy will be developed to:
a) provide service buildings fit for purpose
b) achieve joined-up inter-related services in single locations
c) enable sufficiency, suitability and condition to meet service needs.
2.3 Over the course of five years the intention is to improve the public-facing
portfolio and dispose of the older or inappropriate premises to realise capital
receipts. The Council can continue to achieve reduced stock of higher quality
and repair condition to address the problems identified in the condition surveys
where expenditure needs exceed currently identified resources.
2.4 The Property Strategy identifies the need for a comprehensive asset review
programme which is informed by projected departmental service need in the
medium to longer term and work with the Council’s partners.
2.5 It is proposed to undertake further rationalisation and improvement to the office
portfolio, including a uniform facilities management policy across all buildings,
with corporate arrangements including purchasing of office support services,
fire, health and safety evacuation arrangements, plus driving a policy to reduce
overall floor space while increasing capacity. This will include a continued
programme for reducing the number of leased-in or expensive to run buildings
with rent and or high revenue implications.
2.6 The (Property Strategy) programme will involve coverage of all the Council’s
property holdings through a combination of office accommodation, departmental
service and geographical area reviews. The key measures of the property
Maximum customer access
Value for money.
Significant service improvement.
Satisfactory return on investment
2.7 The Property Strategy will, over the period of the review, look at all Council
property with the exception of schools and HRA residential properties (land
adjoining residential dwellings should be included).
The strategy is being developed in response to:
The recognition that the tenure, use “accessibility” and location of buildings
are defined to meet the service requirements of the community;
The use and location of buildings makes a significant contribution to the
Council’s corporate priorities;
The need for high performance, value for money, sustainable civic
The desire to review, re-use, refurbish, or dispose of under-performing
The requirement to generate capital receipts for reinvestment in agreed
3. The Review Programme
Corporate Office Accommodation
3.1 The Executive on 30th January 2008 approved the phased exit from Clifton
House commencing with the 4th, 5th and 6th floors which will be moving to a
combination of Arlington Depot (Jamestown Road), the Roy Shaw Centre and
the Medburn Centre. The services at the Medburn Centre will migrate to
Bidborough House once complete, thereby vacating the space for the Building
Schools for the Future programme. The consolidation of Housing Renewals
teams with contractor partners is now reaching an advanced stage. The 4 th, 5th
and 6th floor will be vacated by September 2008. Space will need to be
identified for the 2nd and 3rd floors as this space is due to be vacated during
2009/2011. The programme will continue to challenge the effectiveness of the
estate across the whole Borough and establish best value use of resources.
Plans will be worked up to vacate further leasehold premises as the
opportunities arise. It is also envisaged that recommendations will be made to
improve public access to Council services with options, and opportunities
identified as part of the proposed area reviews. (Paragraph 4 below refers.)
Service Departmental Reviews
3.2 The Service Review looks at provision specific to individual service areas and
how this is reflected through the Property Portfolio. It includes analysis of the
immediate position and opportunities for enhancement and improvement set
against projected service plan needs/expectations. Service Departmental
reviews again seek to link areas of local need to the corporate accommodation
strategy. This programme has been in place for a number of years and will
continue in close liaison with the progress of area and corporate office reviews.
3.3 This involves linking parts of the Borough into geographic clusters and reviewing
the Council’s property portfolio base. The area review programme requires a
cross-Council assessment of need within the context of the Council’s priorities. It
is vital that it is linked closely with the service plan vision on property-related
requirements. The next section covers this part of the programme.
4. The Area Review
The Concept and Objectives
4.1 This involves the review of portfolio holdings across a geographical area to
assess against a defined set of objectives and outcomes. The process seeks to
identify action plans to deliver and/or support: -
The Community Strategy and the Corporate Plan;
The customer access strategy;
The flexible working and corporate accommodation strategy;
Property development opportunities;
Rationalisation and repair;
Realising capital receipts;
Improvements to service provision;
Under-performing sites and properties;
Partnership working to achieve common objectives;
Sharing, rationalisation and improvement of buildings used for voluntary and
A modern “fit for purpose” portfolio.
4.2 The key stages are data collection, field work inspections, options appraisal, and
consultation, followed by implementation of the agreed action plan. An area
review is likely to take 12 months from launch to implementation stage. (Interim
actions are also enabled throughout the period of the Review.)
4.3 An area review programme is one shared across the Authority in terms of cross
working and should address all corporate issues as related to Property and land
provision. It is important that the review has linkage with other programmes
such as place shaping, residential estate regeneration, housing infill sites, BSF
and the Adult Social Care programme. In addition the customer transformation
strategy including access points and community use of buildings (including
Tenants meeting halls and Community Centres) are key factors in the review
A Borough Wide Programme
4.4 A programme of area reviews would enable a corporate approach to the use of
land and buildings linked to the objectives as outlined in 4.1 above. There would
be many opportunities for joint-working between services with partners from
outside agencies such as the Voluntary Sector, the PCT and the Police.
4.5 A programme of area review for the whole Borough over a five year period
would be designed to encompass future service needs, the customer access
strategy as well as feeding into the Council’s place shaping agenda. It is
suggested that the area review plan is configured by radial area from key points
of Council activity. These clusters will ensure cross-over between neighbouring
wards, and as shown at Appendix 1 the whole Borough will be covered during a
five-year timetable. It is proposed that the precise sequence of reviews is
decided by the Head of Property Services and endorsed by the Executive
Member for Resources upon various criteria including:
The Council’s Corporate Plan priorities
The Council’s sustainable Community strategy priorities
Known Local Issues
Hubs of Council Service Provision (Public Access)
Likely Quick Wins
Identified Areas requiring urgent action
Areas where the property portfolio has deteriorated and is comparatively in
need of investment/reorganisation
Customer access strategy opportunities
Place-shaping agenda priorities.
These examples of the criteria need to be balanced with the need for flexibility to
change the boundaries of a specific review area as circumstances define.
Voluntary & Community Sector and Residents’ Association Lettings
4.6 An element of this portfolio is in poor condition and may offer opportunities for
rationalisation projects to effect improvements and the joining up of different
provision into more fit for purpose accommodation. It is proposed as part of the
area review programme to include these assets as part of the stock take and
evaluation / option analysis. In addition, if proposals come forward as part of the
asset transfer policy, which was agreed in principle at Executive in October, then
these will be taken forward as individual projects.
4.7 The early consultation and involvement of users and residents will be a
prerequisite for the consideration of any community asset.
5. The Kings Cross Campus
5.1 The Council owns or leases a number of assets which may be grouped
together as office accommodation, civic facilities and the public-facing
customer services. The portfolio at Kings Cross includes a number of these
linked assets and this year Members have already approved major changes.
5.2 The programme for Clifton House in 2008 involves the movement of over
500 staff and is a major driver to change in ways of working.
5.3 New locations have been identified for the 6th, 5th and 4th floors and the
moves are underway. New locations are required for 2 nd and 3rd floors
within the Council’s retained portfolio. In addition the future programme to
rationalise other parts of the property portfolio will similarly rely upon
improved space capacity and flexible working.
5.4 Vacating the property, given the current rental levels in Kings Cross, will
also save the Council, in future years, over £2 million per annum in rent and
rates (if the leases were renewed).
5.5 The Old Town Hall and the Town Hall Extension are key parts of the
Council’s ownership in Kings Cross. Both properties require replacement of
the old mechanical and electrical installations, upgrade of services and
building fabric at a current estimated cost significantly in excess of £20m. In
addition parts of the buildings are used less effectively than they might be. It
is therefore proposed to move towards a long-term solution, involving
consolidating the Old Town Hall into predominantly office accommodation
and civic space with all the public-facing reception services (including those
currently within the Town Hall Extension) and further office space
centralised to the Camden Centre. It is also proposed to seek a
development partner to remodel or rebuild the Town Hall Extension.
6 The Proposals
Old Town Hall
6.1 The Old Town Hall is currently laid out as a combination of the Post Room and
public-facing customer services on the ground floor with civic accommodation at
first and staff offices on the second and third floors. The arrangements do not
make best use of space and the customer access points are separated from
other services providing similar direct access elsewhere in the Kings Cross
Complex. The space on ground, second and third floors is not used to
maximum effect and there exists a repair and maintenance liability especially in
regard to replacement of the mechanical and electrical installations. The
immediate foyer / reception to the Old Town Hall is not considered customer-
6.2 It is proposed to remodel the Ground floor reception area locating the reception
desk to immediately behind the front doors of the building in a glass pod opening
up the reception hall and the staircase leading to the first floor Civic space. This
work will be undertaken during 2008/2009 funded from the accommodation
6.3 It is also proposed to look at the feasibility of moving front line services to the
Camden Centre. The Post Room is also to be located to the Basement with a
separate service access point from Bidborough Street. The Ground floor then to
be remodelled as additional staff accommodation .The First floor to remain
predominately as laid out with the Second and Third floor remodelled as
necessary to effect space efficiency. Proposals for this wider scheme will be
reported back to the Executive for decision, following appraisal.
6.4 The Camden Centre (a Grade II listed building) is in a poor condition of repair
and decorative order, is under utilised and provides the opportunity for
conversion. This building has potential for much more effective Council use.
The proposal is to convert to four floors of accommodation within the existing
building envelope and the re-constituted space to include a multi-purpose
customer centre at the Ground floor with direct street level access from the
Euston Road. The Ground floor could accommodate all the reception services
currently provided at Kings Cross from a single location providing clear and easy
access at one point to Council Services in quality accommodation. Space at
basement, first and second floor could also be included within the scheme
providing much needed flexible office space to accommodate staff decant from
the Town Hall Extension and part of the requirements for the Clifton House
second and third floors.
Officers will report back as part of the financial assessment report
(recommendation 2.6 refers) with an analysis of any community impacts of the
Town Hall Extension
6.5 The Town Hall Extension built in the 1970s is not laid out internally in the most
efficient way and requires significant investment in replacement of the
mechanical and electrical installations. The property suffers as a result and is
perhaps not the most appropriate design as a key landmark building within the
Kings Cross locality. The Mechanical and Electrical installations have already
exceeded their expected life and are in urgent need of replacement. This will
necessitate vacating approximately half of the building at a time in two stages to
effect the work. The work is also expected to cost over £12.5m plus decant
costs and fees, which could in total exceed £20m.
A first stage options appraisal has been undertaken and this identifies three
alternative solutions to this:-
6.5.1 Rolling Refurbishment
This involves refurbishing the building in phases including replacement of
the M&E and improvements to space utilisation. This option would
necessitate decant from the building in phases whilst the work is
undertaken. There would be a requirement for additional space to house
services and staff during the refurbishment period and the costs would be
similar to those reported in 6.5 above.
6.5.2 Disposals and Single Move
This requires the Council to identify alternative accommodation either for
Lease or for Freehold acquisition and the sale of the Town Hall Extension
free of any Council reprovision requirement.
6.5.3 Conditional Part Disposal
This involves seeking a commercial development partner to either
remodel or rebuild with reprovision free of charge back to the Council of
the lower floors with Commercial/Residential uses over. The new
accommodation to be defined by a quality modern brief to create a highly
efficient and sustainable building. This may net the Council a capital
receipt and should provide quality accommodation to the Council’s
The Preliminary Conclusions
6.6 Options 1: Rolling Refurbishment is considered too expensive as a part solution
to the Council and Option 2: Disposal and Single Move will not leave sufficient
space at Kings Cross to support the services currently provided. Option 3: part
Disposal allows the Council, following a decant and relocation process, space
within the new development which can be linked to the Camden Centre and the
Old Town Hall for continuity of Service provision. The development partner may
be able to assist with decant and the other options involve major disruption in
any event. All the current receptions could move to a converted Camden Centre
with staff space as well. The remainder might move to the Old Town Hall
Ground floor or other Council premises as required. On completion of the
rebuild of the Town Hall Extension, Services could be relocated back into the
lower floors of the space in a sustainable new building that will be constructed
for efficient ongoing use and low revenue costs and the Council will occupy on a
basis of a long lease at “peppercorn rent”.
6.7 To date the Council’s advisors CBRE have gauged the market appetite for this
opportunity and confirm that there exists a specific demand for this type of
partnership and a good level of interest to support taking the project to the next
stage. Some preliminary work has also been undertaken to test the floor space
requirements in a re-developed building and this demonstrates that the Council
could take two or possibly three floors, whilst also obtaining a captial receipt.
6.8 It is now proposed to explore a project brief-based on Option 3 via a market
testing exercise. This will detail the vision for the site, allow presale due
diligence work and ensure wide coverage within the market to identify a suitable
partner. A conditional contract will allow the Council to programme this part of its
overall works strategy for Kings Cross so that Camden Centre and the Old Town
Hall can be remodelled in advance of start on site for the Town Hall Extension.
It is proposed to engage consultants to manage the market testing and selection
of a project partner. CBRE have advised the Council in the past upon Council
holdings in Kings Cross and they would provide continuity to the process. They
are also market leaders in enabling this development partnership model. This
appointment is subject to review by the Corporate Procurement Team to ensure
compliance with EU procurement requirements and regulations.
Security and reception services
6.9 The inclusion of the glass reception pod to the front of the Old Town Hall and the
transfer of the main customer services to Camden Centre will enable a revised
security system requiring badged entry, appointments and visitors cards to
access the Old Town Hall space. A full analysis of reception and security
requirements will be undertaken in accordance with the proposed new
arrangements set out in this report.
Denis Geffen Annex
6.10 Denis Geffen Annex is located at Camley Street, in St Pancras and Somers
Town Ward and is currently underused and in relatively poor mechanical,
electrical and decorative order. It is proposed to refurbish and provide bespoke
space for the Council’s emergency planning and business continuity teams.
This will separate the service from other Council activities which is considered
important in the case of response to an incident or emergency. The space can
also provide one of the key locations for the Street Wardens’ service.
6.11 This follows the principles of the Council’s property strategy by bringing back
into use a Council freehold building and will free up space within other buildings.
Work is also to be undertaken to assess opportunities to vacate further
6.12 The Crowndale Centre, next phases, will form part of the area review
programme and will be considered in the light of other Council services in the
area to identify options for further improvement, both in opening up the building
and improving reception services and reanalysing space allocation. This will be
assessed within the context of the Council’s other portfolio provision in the
review area. Design work is also in hand to improve ventilation to the building,
with initial funding requirements identified at paragraph 12.
Other Corporate property
6.13 Other accommodation is also under review and there will be opportunities to
rationalise occupancy and move some Council services to the Town Hall to
space, in part freed up by the proposals in this report. This may generate
potential for new capital receipts.
7. Flexible working and Customer Transformation Strategy
7.1 The consolidation of customer receptions to a single location in Kings Cross will
provide clearer arrangements for citizens seeking access to Council services.
The single access will allow multi-functional service receptions effective use of
space and will facilitate customers accessing a wide range of services from a
single location. The precise layout of the service area is to be defined by the
brief and it is expected that the space could accommodate Cashiers, Registrars’
reception, Housing options, Revenues and Benefits, Planning, Building Control
and Housing advice within the single location. The multi-functional access centre
will require detailed planning and represents significant challenges for the
Council over the coming period.
7.2 The flexible working strategy is being rolled out to Council premises and is
providing effective means by which to manage space to its maximum efficiency
thereby reducing the costs of Civic accommodation and space needs. This has
to date involved a large part of the Council in significant change processes and
the management of the programme set out in this paper will require an
intensification of this good practice and positive contribution from service
departmental areas. Their work has been enabled by new technology solutions
that have been tried and tested and make working flexibly at any desk
(anywhere) much easier. As the programme intensifies the Council will need to
continue the investment in this enabling technology.
8. The Preliminary Timetable
1. Launch of Area Review First Phase July 08
2. Town Hall Extension soft marketing July/Nov 08
3. Camden Centre scheme preparation and Summer 08 – Jan. 09
4. Report to Executive on full financial appraisal Spring 09
5. Town Hall extension conditional contract / Jan 09 – Dec 09
6. Conversion and occupation of Denis Geffen March/April 09
7. Area Review first year results / June/July 09
recommendations+ 2nd yr start
8. Implementation, 1st year area review July 09 – on going
9. Camden Centre Start on Site Sept 09
10. Old Town Hall Construction Phased 2009 to 2011
11. Area Review 3 Year start June/July 2010
12. Town Hall Extension Decant 2010/2011
13. Camden Centre Completion 2010/2011
14. Area Review 4 Year June/July 2011
15. Town Hall Extension Completion 2013
The Area Review Programme
9.1 It is envisaged that each of the reviews will require additional resource allocation
to secure the required capacity whilst continuing the existing mainstream
programme. This programme has the potential to produce significant capital
and revenue advantage to the Authority. Potential quick wins will be brought
forward at early stages to ensure short-term only impact upon Council
9.2 Funding to complete the first year of the review is estimated at £350k and it is
anticipated that potential new receipts in excess of £1.5 million will be identified
early in the first year review. It is proposed that the initial sum of £350k be
funded as identified in paragraph 12.
Kings Cross Strategy
9.3 Marketing for sale of the Town Hall Extension and preparing the full scheme with
planning application drawings etc. of the Camden Centre and work to the Old
Town Hall will require up-front funding which may be reimbursed as a result of
this project and other corporate accommodation reviews. The feasibility
preparatory and pre-implementation scheme costs will be significant and it is
proposed that these are similarly funded from the approved revenue budget for
the accommodation strategy.
It is envisaged that the project will be self funded through a combination of new
capital receipts, existing budget allocation and revenue efficiencies. There will
be a requirement for forward funding to enable the programme, and the
Executive will receive a further report (as mentioned at recommendation 1.6);
once the Town Hall Extension marketing is complete.
10.1 It is proposed to arrange a consultative forum and invite all elected Members to
explain the concept of area review and seek suggestions upon the process and
11.1 This report represents further corporate working to achieve major efficiencies in
the use of office accommodation and will build upon the significant reductions in
floor space already identified through Clifton House, 79 Camden Road,
Bidborough House and other projects. The programme brings forward a major
modernisation and improvement of the Council’s property holdings. The funding
requirements will need to be analysed as a result of the marketing exercise but
the programme will create a portfolio in Kings Cross to last for 50 years without
major expenditure or investment. The programme will achieve a fit for purpose
portfolio and a testimony to the Council’s commitment to improving customer
services, reducing on-going costs of accommodation and creating sustainable
efficient, high-quality buildings. The programme will also in the short to medium
term show a capital repayment on investment both through revenue efficiency
and Capital receipts from major disposals facilitated by the programme.
12. Comments of the Director of Finance
12.1 This report sets out a number of proposals as part of the Camden property
strategy. The strategy has a number of components and for the most significant
elements a further report will be brought back to Executive for consideration and
approval before the final proposals are implemented. Savings arising from the
exit strategy from Clifton House have been identified as £0.6m for 2008/09 as
part of the Better and Cheaper programme and it is envisaged that further
savings from this and other elements of the strategy will contribute towards
meeting budget efficiency targets for 2009/10 and 2010/11.
12.2 Capital Schemes
The capital schemes set out in this report are as follows:-
2008/09 2009/10 Total
Scheme £’000 £’000 £’000
Denis Geffen Annex 220 280 500
Crowndale Centre Air 400 0 400
Town Hall Entrance 200 200 400
Schemes 820 480 1,300
Contingency 10% 80 50 130
Total allocation 900 530 1,430
12.3 Revenue Schemes
The funding requirements for the revenue proposals set out in this report are as
2008/0 2009/10 Total
Revenue Scheme £’000 £’000 £’000
Area Based Review 350 350 700
Town Hall Extension 150 0 150
Camden centre consultancy 500 0 500
Total 1,000 350 1,350
12.4 The total costs identified to enable these schemes to progress are £1.9m in
2008/09 and £0.9m in 2009/10 and the funding for these will be met from the
existing annual accommodation budget of £1.9m, set aside for revenue
contributions to capital schemes.
12.5 The capital schemes will be added to the capital programme. It is further
proposed that as the Area based reviews progress the initial call on any receipts
generated is applied to re-imburse the capital resources used to support the
reviews, so that the programme for mechanical and engineering work within the
office portfolio is not adversely affected.
12.6 The proposals concerning the Town Hall extension and the Camden Centre will
be subject to financial appraisal and a further report to Executive for decision.
13. Comments of the Head of Legal Services
13.1 The Town Hall complex is held for the Council’s general administrative purposes
under section 120 of the Local Government Act 1972, which gives the Council
power to acquire and hold property for any administrative function, or for any
purpose which is of benefit to the Borough or any part of it. This gives the
Council flexibility in deciding precisely how it uses different parts of the Town