Fringe Box



SCC Property Purchase Gives £30m to Bankrupt Woking

Published on: 11 Mar, 2024
Updated on: 11 Mar, 2024

McLaren Applied – McLaren is surrendering its lease allowing Woking to sell the building to Surrey. Google

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

Surrey County Council has added another building to its property portfolio after buying the Victoria Gate site from Woking Borough Council in a deal that will net the bankrupt authority more than £30 million.

The county has said it will not disclose how much it paid for the former McLaren site in Victoria Way, Woking, but the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands the overall package will bring in about £32,250,000 – although the split between McLaren’s early surrender of the premises and how much the county paid remains unclear.

It comes two months after Surrey County Council said it expected to add a further billion pounds of debt to its books as part of its capital programme, from £1.3 billion to £2.4 billion by 2028/29.

Announcing the deal, Surrey County Council said the purchase “underpins” its commitment to “efficiency, sustainability, and improved services” with the new site serving as its corporate office hub in north-west Surrey.

It now plans to put its old Quadrant Court site in Guildford Road up for sale in an effort to recoup some of its costs.

The deal is being seen as good news for Woking Borough Council as it nets more than £30 million from the site, hopes to bring more people into the heart of the town centre, and potentially allows it to sell off its civic centre as it tries to pay back part of its own multibillion pound debt.

The county council expects staff to relocate to its latest acquisition later this year.

Cllr Natalie Bramhall, Cabinet member for property, waste and infrastructure, said: “This strategic move reaffirms Surrey County Council’s commitment to creating a conducive work environment while aligning with our broader objectives of sustainability and improved service delivery.”

Surrey said the decision is part of its overall vision to “provide services from a contemporary, agile environment that caters to the needs of both residents and employees” and that the Woking town centre location was optimal for both staff and residents due to the excellent access to public transport and car parking facilities.

Surrey County Council moved its headquarters from Kingston to Woodhatch Place in Reigate after acquiring the site for £50 million. Other hubs across include Dakota in Brooklands, Weybridge, and Fairmount House in Leatherhead.

Cllr Ann-Marie Barker

The leader of Woking Borough Council, Ann-Marie Barker (Lib Dem, Goldsworth Park), said: “Asset rationalisation is a key part of the Council’s Improvement and Recovery Plan agreed with Government.

“The sale of Victoria Gate delivers best value both in terms of return to the public purse and benefit to the community.”

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