Surrey County Council has announced that its headquarters will be moving to Woking, and away from Kingston-upon-Thames which for more than 50 years has been a London borough.
Subject to approval at a full council meeting, the Woking base will be at Midas House, a modern commercial building that can house up to 1500 employees.
Staff will start moving out from Kingston in phases from spring/summer 2020.
The cost of the Woking building, which will mostly be met by selling the Kingston site, is said to be a “fraction” of the amount that would be needed to modernise the Victorian building in Kingston.
Maintenance costs will also be cheaper: it’s reckoned the new base will generate savings of around £700,000 a year.
Councillors, the senior leadership team and staff representing all the council’s functions and services will be based at the Woking operation, which will be the council’s centre for decision-making.
Other teams will relocate to county council offices in Leatherhead, Guildford and Reigate.
There will also be ‘agile’ working, with many staff basing themselves at locations across the county including district and borough council offices.
The move of the HQ back inside the county’s borders will put right an accident of history: the current county hall was within Surrey when it was built in the 1890s, but shifted into London when Surrey’s borders were redrawn in the Local Government Act of 1964.
Cllr Tim Oliver, leader of Surrey County Council, said last week: “I am truly excited about this momentous move, which will accelerate changes in the way we work, enabling our employees to work even more flexibly and spend more time with our residents and service users.
“Aside from the fact that the new civic heart will now actually be inside the county of Surrey, which has been our long-held ambition, the real driver has been the desire to place services right at the heart of the population we are here to serve.
“A new modern facility in Woking will help us achieve not only those objectives but will also help to position us as a leading council fit for the future. This underpins the need for the council to be financially sustainable, as well as being in line with our reduced carbon footprint ambitions and green travel agenda.”
The council has been considering its relocation options for a number of years, narrowing the choice to Woking or Guildford this April.