Keys to SIC’s new ‘White House’ headquarters handed over
An official hand-over ceremony has been held to mark the completion of the new council headquarters in the North Ness of Lerwick, already dubbed the White House.
The £7.3 million project was completed on time and on budget by construction firm Hunter and Morrison.
SIC chief executive Alistair Buchan said the hand-over on Tuesday represented a “once in a generation” opportunity to centralise the SIC’s services, and to create a more efficient and dynamic authority.
The ceremony clears the way for 200 workers from eight SIC offices to move into the new 3,000 square metre development over the next few weeks, starting from this weekend.
Mr Buchan said the light and airy building, complete with glass panelling and sensors which trigger the lights, had already been given the seal of approval by many of the staff who will be based there.
“A lot of the staff have had tours round the building already and the feedback we’ve had from them has been excellent.
“I think this is a once in a generation opportunity to really make the most of this fantastic new building, and to really lift the organisation further as part of our improvement working, and to drive things on in the interests of serving the public of Shetland.”
The headquarters were built by the trading arm of Shetland Charitable Trust, Slap. They will be leased back to the council as part of a 30-year commercial agreement.
Slap’s company secretary, Jeff Goddard, said the project had been a very successful one.
“I was just thinking of the last couple of years while this project was going on. Slap was very excited and impressed by the design and build tender put forward by Hunter & Morrisons and their architect, Andy McNair [of Covell Matthews].
“We were particularly impressed by the clean lines, the use of natural light and the energy-efficiency for the building.
“The build started just under two years ago and the finished building has turned out even better than we had hoped.”
He highlighted the “positive partnership” enjoyed by all parties during the building phase, led by project manager Craig Nicolson.
“I believe Slap has produced a modern, light building for the council to work in.”
Outgoing political leader, Josie Simpson, will not see the benefits of the new headquarters following his imminent retirement from politics. But he insisted the offices would represent “a great asset” for the council.
“I am leaving the council now but I wish the staff all the very best in these premises.”
Workers from the capital programme service at the Greenhead will be among the first to move in, as will performance and improvement from the Hillhead, the town hall-based executive services and human resources staff from Hayfield House.
They will later be joined by finance staff, internal audit and human resource workers from Montfield and governance and law workers who are flitting from Market Street.
The final move will see staff from adult learning vacate the old library, while community planning will move from the Solarhus, the grants unit from Hayfield, human resources from St Olaf Street and Montfield and transport from Commercial Road.
That will pave the way for the council to dispose of many of its older office buildings. Mr Buchan said that would help the council reduce its operating costs.
An alternative plan for some of the offices could be to convert them into much needed housing accommodation, which will help to reduce the lengthy waiting list.
“But equally we need to find established, proper, modern office accommodation for the staff who are not coming into this building, so some refurbishment work will be necessary also,” added Mr Buchan.
John Lowes, construction manager with Hunter and Morrison, said there had been a strong team-spirit throughout the development of the new headquarters.
“We wanted to centralise things and I think that’s going to be achieved by the building we’ve provided. I’ve had a good team from all our staff to help build this. All the way up it’s been a team effort and everybody’s been considerate to the end product. It’s come out looking good.”