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District councils to be temporarily based in Abingdon

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils will soon be moving on from the office building that has been our home for the past seven years.

At the end of September, to significantly reduce unnecessary costs, we will be moving to some temporary office space in the Vale’s Abbey House building in the centre of Abingdon where we plan to stay for a couple of years while South Oxfordshire District Council completes the development of a new office building at Didcot Gateway.

We’ve been based at Milton Park since the summer of 2015, a few months after an arson attack at our headquarters at Crowmarsh Gifford, near Wallingford.

The vast majority of council staff now have hybrid working arrangements meaning they can work from home or other remote locations, or in the office. This means we need significantly less office space than before, and so the building we’re occupying at Milton Park is now much too big for our needs.

We’ve therefore taken an opportunity to bring the lease to an end now, meaning we’ll save significant sums in rent while operating out of the much smaller office space at Abbey House, which is owned by the Vale.

Most of that building is being leased by Oxfordshire County Council, but there is a small amount of available office space on the ground floor, which we last used as part of our emergency arrangements the immediate aftermath of the Crowmarsh fire.

While Abbey House will be a suitable office location for the short term, over the longer term, the councils will need more collaboration and non-desk based space, in a more energy efficient building. This will help us meet our targets to become carbon neutral councils and will also help both councils to continue to improve our financial sustainability and offer the flexibility we need to recruit and retain staff in an increasingly challenging jobs market.

The doors will open at the Abbey House offices on Monday 3 October. We will be reminding customers through our website, social media accounts, newsletters and the local press and media.

Cllr David Rouane, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “This is an important step towards a long-term carbon-neutral and financially sustainable future for our council. Milton Park has served us well since the fire, but the building no longer suits our needs, which have changed significantly in the past two years. We are fortunate to have Abbey House as a steppingstone towards our energy-efficient new headquarters at Didcot Gateway.”

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Milton Park has been an excellent temporary home and is an asset to the Vale. However, as our needs have changed, it makes sound financial sense to temporarily move into a building we own that gives us enough space for the short term.”