Staff from eight of Shetland Islands Council’s offices are about to move into the new £7.3 million headquarters at the North Ness in Lerwick.
The centralising of around 200 employees under one roof is intended to streamline operations and provide a central point for people to access some council services, including finance, transport and the grants unit. The move will leave a number of empty office buildings around the town.
The 3,000 square metre three-storey building is owned by Shetland Charitable Trust’s property and development company Slap which will lease it to the council under a 30-year commercial agreement. The twin wings are connected by a glazed atrium which houses the services to be shared by the departments.
The building has been completed on time and within budget by local contractor Hunter & Morrisons who will formally hand it over on Tuesday at 11am. The three weekends following will see staff flitting to their new offices.
SIC chief executive Alistair Buchan believes the new offices present the council with “a huge opportunity to improve the way we work”.
He said: “There are the obvious tangible benefits like the fact we will be able to reduce time wasted travelling between offices and save money on energy costs. But there are also intangible benefits in the way services will now be able to work more closely with improved day-to-day contact.”
He said the move went “to the heart” of the improvement work that has been progressing in the local authority for the past 18 months. “I’m aware that a move like this has been talked about for some time so it is a real achievement for everyone involved to finally see it happening.”
Retiring council political leader Josie Simpson said the new building would give staff much better working conditions, adding: “I wish them well in their new offices.”
The first four groups to move in will be the capital programme service from the Greenhead, performance and improvement from the Hillhead, human resources from Hayfield House and executive services from the town hall.
They will be joined the next weekend by finance, internal audit and human resources from Montfield and governance and law from Market Street.
The final flit on the weekend of 5th May involves adult learning leaving the old library, community planning moving from the Solarhus, the grants unit from Hayfield, human resources from St Olaf Street and Montfield and transport planning/ZetTrans from Commercial Road.