Major deal sees Surrey to move 600 jobs into Woking town centre as borough contemplates selling council offices

Mclaren Applied - Mclaren is surrendering its lease allowing Woking to sell the building to Surrey  (image Google)Mclaren Applied - Mclaren is surrendering its lease allowing Woking to sell the building to Surrey  (image Google)
Mclaren Applied - Mclaren is surrendering its lease allowing Woking to sell the building to Surrey (image Google)
A major deal between Mclaren, Surrey County Council, and Woking Borough Council could potentially pave the way for the bankrupt authority to sell its headquarters.

Mclaren is to pay off its leasehold interests in Victoria Gate, Chobham Road, which in turn will allow the borough to flip the freehold to Surrey County Council.

The fallout will result in a large windfall for the borough. This can be measured both in terms of the revenue generated by the sale as well as increased footfall in Woking town centre from the 600 staff that the county plans to move into its latest acquisition.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The deal also includes a condition that secures Woking Borough Council an option to occupy the fourth and part of the fifth floors of Victoria Gate – although it said it would only exercise this option if it proved to be “the most cost effective solution”.

Quadrant Court - Surrey County Council (image Google)Quadrant Court - Surrey County Council (image Google)
Quadrant Court - Surrey County Council (image Google)

The financial details have so far been kept private.

However the public papers read: “Whilst a review of the civic town centre campus is currently in hand to establish the optimum revised footprint and civic requirements going forward the results of this work are unlikely to provide a clear strategic approach until early/mid 2024.

“Although it is not currently considered a likely scenario in order to ensure all possibilities remain in play Woking Borough Council has therefore secured the ability to share occupation of the building by triggering an option to do so any time up to three months post completion of the sale.

“The terms of any occupation by Woking Borough Council will be either on a capital payment based on the square footage occupied divided into the purchase price giving an equivalent figure per square foot for a long leasehold interest/virtual freehold or alternatively, occupation may be agreed on a rental basis at terms to be negotiated at the time.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

According to papers presented to the Thursday, January 18, executive committee the deal would also remove “competitive” office space that was “undercutting” the council.

Taking the Mclaren building off the market, it said, would “benefit” other Woking Borough Council buildings “by having a greater chance to attract new tenants”.

Moving Surrey County Council staff would, the borough hopes, “generate needed additional town centre footfall alongside additional retail, leisure and catering spending”.

Woking will also be renting out about 250 car parking spaces to the county, generating additional income while simultaneously “bringing a currently underused asset into occupation”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Leader of the council, Councillor Ann-Marie Barker thought it was a good deal for Woking.

She said: “Mclaren moved into this space a little before the lockdown and the covid period and they’ve literally found their business model has changed and they don’t need all that space any more.”

She added: “It’s really good news that we have found a new occupier for the space, in fact an occupier that wants to buy the building, that’s Surrey County Council’s preference to buy rather than rent buildings.”

Staff are expected to move from Surrey’s Quadrant Court building in Guildford Road.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Cllr Barker said: “They are already pretty close to the centre at the moment but moving to the Victoria Gate premises does bring them right into the heart of the centre, and hopefully there will be more benefit to the shops and business in the central area.

“We do have an option to take some space in there ourselves. That would be a move from these premises to those premises that would only be done when a full assessment would prove that it would be the most cost effective solution for this council going forward.

“We are looking at this space and looking at what the best moves are going forward. It would only be a move to there if it really was the most cost effective move for Woking Borough Council.”

Related topics: