Lease plan

Council to rent out £80m ‘underused’ offices

Edinburgh City Council
Edinburgh Council’s Waverley Court HQ is underused

Edinburgh city council is planning to lease out rooms in its sprawling headquarters near Waverley station as more than 80% of desks are unused because of staff working from home.

A quarter of the floor space in the £3 million-a-year Waverley Court building will be leased after a review in January found that only 14% were occupied.

Rent from desks could generate £1.7 million in annual revenue while running costs could be reduced by 60% to £1.2 million, according to a report to the council. It proposes the creation of flexible working hubs and hot-desking for those continuing to use the offices.

The headquarters building was the council’s most expensive when it was completed in 2006 at a cost of £80 million.

The authority is trialling audiovisual equipment to assist with hybrid meetings as part of a digitising of its operations.

Finding a better use for public buildings has spread to Scotland’s new social security headquarters on Dundee’s waterfront, which costs £1.5 million a year to run and had an occupancy rate of less than 40%.

The building opened in 2021. Rent the following year cost taxpayers £541,200, plus over £900,000 in rates, energy and maintenance.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, last week called on the Scottish Government to sell or scale back the use of public buildings as part of a savings plan that would reduce the need to raise taxes to plug a £1 billion gap in the budget.

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