The 1980s Civic Offices of Epping Forest District Council is being transformed into a new community hub. ISG PLC is on time and budget to deliver a radically altered and updated building back to the Council early in the new year.
The offices are being re-engineered as a flexible office and meeting space available to the Council, other public organisations, businesses and the local community. This restructuring of the Civic Offices will clear the way for the eventual redevelopment of the Council’s older Conder Building for much needed housing. The Conder site is just one of the five sites across Epping to be developed by the Council’s wholly owned development company, Qualis.
There is minimal indication from the outside of the major changes within. Council Leader Chris Whitbread took a tour of the site and the work in progress on Thursday (3 September).
A new building delivering better services
Speaking after the tour, Councillor Whitbread said:
The internal transformation is amazing. ISG has removed most of the interior office walls and corridors. You can feel the sense of space as the building is opened up. Gone are the small offices with their artificial barriers to communication. In are new collaborative work-spaces designed to make the most of the talents of our staff and deliver the best possible services to our residents.
New ways of working brought in before Coronavirus have stood the Council in good stead during the pandemic. Many staff will continue to work from home after the building work is completed, reducing the costs both for local Council Tax Payers and the Environment.
Chris Whitbread said:
We made these plans to reduce our office footprint before anyone heard of Coronavirus, but the technological investment in remote working for our staff has paid huge dividends. The new offices will further compliment the new approach, cutting our overheads and reducing costs to our Council Tax Payers.
There is also a huge environmental benefit from the reduction in our carbon footprint. We’ve cut our carbon emissions with fewer car journeys, as well as improving the work-life balance of many staff no longer entering the daily commute on congested roads.
A community asset
Epping Forest District Council intends to open its doors to the local community. The top floor is being set aside for private businesses, bringing jobs and investment into the local economy.
New meeting spaces are being created on the ground floor accessible to local groups and societies. The Council hopes it can tempt Epping Library to relocate from its old building at the other end of Epping. A café where people can meet and relax will complete the project.
Open for business
Chris Whitbread says the Council is moving with the times. He said:
The traditional city centre business districts are changing. People don’t want a return to the long London commute. The emphasis is moving out of London to small, convenient and local office spaces. The Civic Offices will provide a base for new and established businesses to prosper and grow, with the rental income helping to support public services to our residents.
Having cleared much of the old wiring along with walls and corridors, ISG is starting the ‘First Fix’ with new cabling designed to carry the electrics, communications and technology of the next 20 years.
Chris Whitbread concluded:
It was fascinating to see the building stripped back to its bare bones. We look forward to the new community hub to emerge, heralding a new era for Epping Forest.
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