Tuesday, March 22, 2011

DTZ Single Site report

Tav over at the WFA has flagged the arrival of the "fabled secret DTZ report". This is the report that supposedly provides the basis for the council's decision to build the single site.

First things first - the date. Yep it's dated 2006 so as some have us have been attempting to ascertain since this has been first mentioned we're running off a five-year old recommendation. Because it's not as if anything major has happened in the intervening period.

This report apparently cost £25k to produce and Tav points out the number of spelling and grammatical errors contained therein. Just saying - there's a grammatical error in the very first paragraph both an incorrect conjugate and a redundancy (consolidating, which by definition will be in "one place"). I'll forego any further errors or we'll be here all day... damnit you can't consolidate staff unless you have multiple staff, there's only one employer so there's only one staff; you centralise them instead. Okay,okay no more; promise :-) Aargh why do they keep dropping articles and conjunctions? Calm thoughts, calm thoughts.

Just to set terms GIA stands for Gross Internal Area, it's been used throughout the 79 page document from the beginning but only gets expanded on page 62. Likewise FTE stands for Full Time Employee(s) and NIA Net Internal Area, neither of these are explicitly expanded anywhere.

For my own peace of mind I'll skip over the rest of the executive summary and get to the meat. The first part details how they'll be looking at the "feasibility of a centralisation strategy for the office accommodation" the need for which has been driven by "The Council believ[ing] there is an a priori case for centralising its office accommodation." and the "recognition that existing offices are sub-optimal in size, cost more than a consolidated office would to run and impair operational efficiency". In other words the Council think that it would be better and this report is going to test that. Sounds good.

This has become important "So much so, that the current Council was elected on a platform of “five priorities” one of which was to investigate and implement the proposal as fully as possible." Okay hands-up anyone who voted for their councillor in 2004 based partly on their single site policy? Just you then; weirdo!

Hertfordshire was "bursting at the seams" no they were over-occupied, with the new building being spacious not "roomy". Okay I swear no more of this, but in this case it does sound like they've copied and pasted from a council PR missive.

An interesting statement here "This means that the external, as well as the internal, design should project the culture and personality of the Council." Given the building design put forward the projection is of a typical business. Which would be fine except businesses work for themselves and not for us.

A possible contradiction "Staff should get the facilities they need to do their jobs, not the same facilities regardless of job." so to accomplish this we need "Standardised workspaces: with common furniture, facilities and ICT services used by all grades of staff" oh as well as specialised spaces, but still that doesn't quite gel for me.

"Touchdown is an important concept." so important we feel there's no requirement to explain what it means. From context the number of times a worker visits the office. This is indeed an important topic when it comes to the building design as you want the optimal number of desks and employee parking spaces. This report estimates 218 permanent desk requirements with 65 'hot' desks for outreach workers. As I've mentioned elsewhere the new building provides for 205 desks; that's a bit of a difference.

Damnit okay I said I wouldn't but "The other divers behind then proposal are:" £25k people, £25k! It's not OCR errors either this was generated from a Word document.

Another interesting comment regarding the Civic Centre "The Council chamber is a round area which makes it particular inflexible for alternative uses." So that's why the new building is all squared off. Oh and apparently is was constructed in 1968 which would be two years after it was opened. Damn they were efficient in those days.

{Asides: "peripatetic" always sounds vaguely medical to me. What do you say when you see a Duke? "Duke Ho"! Hey I've got to try and keep my sanity somehow.}

Possible land use and valuations are covered next. For the Civic Centre mention is made that the site potential would be greater if the Civic Hall could be removed; however previously it was mentioned that "the loss of a community facility will not be permitted where there is a clear need for the facility". As per usual the talk is of residential properties although due to circumstances specifically the affordable or sheltered type. No mention is made that this site overlooks the main riverside area of the town and could thus be described as being potentially bloody iconic and that this therefore would make an ideal location for some additional town use - museum/attraction of some type.

7/8 New Street gets a valuation of £250k the auction we've just had saw it realise £30k. No disrespect to the valuers this is a 4/5 years old estimation after all, but this is what you can expect to happen when you stick to such an outdated plan.

[Update: as Tav has pointed out below 7/8 New Street went for £275k; I'd mixed it up with the Blackwell Street property]

Now we reach the crux and the main options available to us are:

1) Do Nothing
2a) Keep the Green Street vehicle depot and extend the Stourport Civic Centre
2b) Build a new centre on already owned ground in Kidderminster
2c) Build a new centre on new ground in a 'neutral' location.

Now at this point you need to pay attention. In terms of Net Present Cost options 2b and 2c are ahead of 2a by about £2m except the actual capital costs of 2a are about £2m less than options b and c. Why is the overall cost of 2a higher; because we're told the running costs will be higher except they cancel out don't they? Tie their tables together and you get:


Over 5 years in £'000 you can clearly see that options 2b and 2c are the most cost-effec... wait a second; they're the most expensive. The only way you can see this is if you combine their two tables something they don't do. So how can they claim the latter two options are the cheapest? By setting capital expenditure at zero after Year 5 and calculating for 25 years. Then you get this table

1STATUSQUO:BASECASE 0-31,125-31,125

There's that £2m. As such the recommendation is for either 2b or 2c. This is clarified by the fact that they would generate £550k in running costs savings. And there's that magic figure that the council are tossing around. Which I find interesting because I can't derive it from these figures.

If we take the per annum cost given for Status Quo it's £1,245k. The new build options are £272k that's a higher difference of £973k per annum. Surely this is the figure that should be announced? If you take it from the next best option of rebuilding the Civic Centre that's £458k leaving a difference of £186k so it's not that.

Oh wait if I take the overall 25 year cost of Status Quo and subtract New Build Kidderminster from it I get £518k per annum. which is close, but can't be right as that's capital and not just running cost.

So where did that £550k figure come from? You tell me, seriously please see if you can find it from these figures. There are more tables in Appendix B, but they don't total the running costs just one lump sum for both it and capital and looking at the bare figures it just seems to match the derived tables I'm working from.

Decision made we'll go for option 2b) it'll have a net cost of £9.45m and "The Council considers that this net project cost is affordable and can be funded. Up to approximately half of the net project cost can be funded from other reserves and disposals leaving at least £4.6m to be funded from other sources."

Except we've been we're now going for option 2c it'll cost £10.5m and the total cost will be funded by disposals. Gee I guess some things can change in five years.


Tav said...

"7/8 New Street gets a valuation of £250k the auction we've just had saw it realise £30k."

7/8 New Street went for £275,000.

FlipC said...

Damnit thanks. I used my auction comment over at your site rather than the original report and perpetuated my original switch.