Council goes west as part of "City Change"

08 Dec 2017

Newcastle City Council will move its administrative headquarters to a new West End building that will help staff provide better services
for ratepayers from a single office block in the heart of the future CBD.

The new five-level building, now under construction on the corner of Hunter St and Stewart Ave next to CarLovers carwash, will house
around 400 staff relocated from outdated buildings in the Civic precinct.

The new building on the corner of Stewart Ave and Hunter St.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the 2019 move aligned with the strategic relocation of Newcastle's city centre under its urban renewal strategy and Council's plans for Wickham and the West End.

"As well as providing ratepayers a more attractive place to come and deal with Council, this move is about consolidating our administrative staff in a single building to increase productivity and provide even better services," Councillor Nelmes said.

"Located opposite the Newcastle Interchange in the middle of the future CBD, the more-sustainable council HQ will enable greater collaboration and also offer off-street parking for ratepayers.

"Our new base will utilise the best modern design to enable staff to meet the growing demands of a rapidly developing city while offering easier access for people with mobility challenges and a more inviting foyer.

"The new building also sits inside the city's future digital precinct, where our staff and other businesses will have high-speed internet connections under Council's Smart City Plan."

Council's administrative staff are currently spread across the 1970s City Administration Centre, City Hall, the old Fred Ash warehouse and another premises several hundred metres away at 473 Hunter St.

Council has entered into an agreement for a 15-year lease on 5,550 sqm of office space at the 12 Stewart Avenue site known as "Gateway 2", for its location at the CBD's entry point.

Interim CEO Jeremy Bath said increased staff retention, engagement and energy savings were expected to result in bottom-line efficiencies of between 10 and 15 per cent.

"We know Council will save up to $14,000 every year per staff member by moving from four buildings into one modern building," Mr Bath said.

"Modelling from various agencies show savings through improved sustainability, reduced absenteeism, greater employee retention and increased productivity.

"The one-off $7 million cost of the relocation compares favourably to a poor $6 million investment should we choose to stay and update inefficient buildings with a combined age of over 140 years.

"After analysing the best way forward, it became clear that we needed to centralise and move to a new facility for the benefit of both ratepayers and staff.

"While our administrative staff will be making the move, 150-plus staff will remain in the Civic and Honeysuckle area and continue providing great services across the library, art gallery, museum, Civic Theatre and City Hall."

Fit out of the new building will begin in early 2019 before the new premises opens later that year.

Council's move west reflects the continuing evolution of the city.

Newcastle Borough Council first met in the old court house on the site of the old Post Office and later in the Municipal Building in Hunter Street.

The first designated Council chambers was built in Watt Street in 1884 in the building now occupied by the United Services Club before the chambers and council administration moved to City Hall in 1929.

The future use of the current City Administration Centre and heritage-listed Fred Ash Building will be decided by the elected Council, as will the location of future council meetings.

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