Around 2,700 civil servants working in and around Peterborough and Birmingham are to be relocated into cross-departmental hubs in the latest phase of the government’s estate strategy.
The two sites, which will open in 2021, will bring the total number of hubs announced to date to 16, in a drive to cut down on building costs and move more civil servants outside Whitehall.
The Birmingham city centre development is the second hub to be announced in the city and will host around 1,700 civil servants from Public Health England, the Consumer Council for Water and other government organisations.
It will be based in Platform 21, a former Woolworths building in the central New Street area and will save £6m each year through “improved efficiency”, according to the Cabinet Office.
It will will be a short walk away from the 3 Arena Central hub, announced in 2017, which will house 3,600 civil servants from departments including HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions when it also opens in 2021.
In Peterborough, around 1,000 staff in the Passport Agency, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Joint Nature Conservation will move to Fletton Quays, a major private-sector led redevelopment project.
The hub will be based in Fletton, a formerly derelict area of land between the river and the railway line running between Peterborough and March. The development is part of a £120m regeneration of the site being led by Peterborough Investment Partnership and site developer Bride Hall.
LaSalle Investment Management and development manager Evenacre will lead work on the Birmingham site.
These are the first sites to be named in the second phase of the government's hubs programme. The first round focused on HMRC moving staff from 170 current offices into 13 hubs, is planned to support the ‘brilliant civil service’ aim by providing modern offices and greater flexible working, and the Government Estates Strategy published last year set out plans for a total of "around 20” to be created, with an overall aim to reduce the office buildings in which central government operates from 800 to around 200. This is expected to save an estimated £2.5bn in running costs over 20 years.
Cabinet Office minister for implementation Simon Hart said the hubs programme would support regeneration and local economies across the UK.
“The opening of these new hubs is great news for local businesses in Birmingham and Peterborough,” he said.
“It also makes sure government workers have the best possible facilities and saves taxpayers’ money by replacing outdated office blocks which are expensive to maintain with more modern facilities.”
The leader of Peterborough City Council, councillor John Holdich, said the hub at Fletton Quays would “bring footfall, recruitment and investment, as well as opening up the prospect of attracting additional government jobs to Peterborough in the future”.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street said the choice to open a second hub in Birmingham showed ministers had “recognised the city's great transport links and infrastructure, and the fact the city, and indeed the wider region, has so much to offer”.