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‘Guildford Risks Losing Businesses to Woking and Reading’

Published on: 21 Jun, 2022
Updated on: 22 Jun, 2022

Council offices, Millmead. Millmead House, on the right of the picture, is now empty.

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Guildford risks losing the gaming industry and small businesses to Woking and Reading if more office space cannot be provided for them in the town, according to one councillor.

Councillors discussed the future of the Guildford Borough Council offices at a meeting of the authority’s Strategy and Resources Executive Advisory Board last week (Monday, June 13).

The meeting heard that council staff had moved out of the “old” part of the Millmead building, which has also been allocated for redevelopment as part of the town’s masterplan.

According to officers, this will allow the 7,500 sq ft of office space to be rented out and generate around £250,000 a year for the council, primarily to public sector bodies.

But letting out space for hot-desking – where companies or individuals can work for a short time or by subscription – was outlined as not something the council could effectively manage.

The future of council offices in Guildford was also discussed, as the authority continues to move towards sharing more staff with Waverley Borough Council, and the two authorities iron out any future office sharing arrangements.

Cllr Christopher Barrass (R4GV, Clandon & Horsley) said he didn’t think it was “beyond the wit of man” for the council to recruit a team to manage a hot-desking set up.

He said: “There’s a huge demand. We’ve had the gaming industry telling us that there isn’t enough space for small start-ups in the town and that it’s a real issue for them.”

Saying there was “no great magic” to recruiting someone on the ground to manage issues such as technical and security issues, he said the council should be looking at options for its own buildings as it had done for buildings with commercial uses.

He added: “The possibility to generate revenue out of there will be enormous and it will be meeting a real need.

“It will be keeping those start-up companies in Guildford rather than moving off, as they are at the moment,  to places like Woking and to Reading, who are attracting those people because they offer those facilities.”

Cllr Barrass also said he thought there would be questions raised by residents if Guildford Borough Council moved its offices to The Burys in Godalming, to share with Waverley there.

But he added that having a customer-facing site in a location such as Guildford library would be more accessible than the current set up in Millmead.

Long term, the options outlined for Guildford Borough Council were that it buys smaller premises alone, that Guildford and Waverley buy shared premises or that Guildford and Waverley move into The Burys when the redevelopment project finishes.

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test One Response to ‘Guildford Risks Losing Businesses to Woking and Reading’

  1. Jenny Grove Reply

    June 23, 2022 at 10:39 am

    Perhaps the proposed housing estate in North Street could be altered to accommodate some new offices for the gaming industry and other start-ups, or even a new “customer-facing” building for Guildford Borough Council. How more central could it be? Maybe a modern museum and a Tourist Information Centre here wouldn’t go amiss.

    It is good to read that discussions about the future of the GBC building are taking place now as the future of this site, together with proposed applications for the Debenhams site and the St Edwards site should be viewed as a whole by planners and councillors when considering the effects upon the future of Guildford and its residents.

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