Santander says many of its 2,000 staff at the Bootle site known locally as ‘the Giro’ are now working from home due to COVID-19 prompting a rethink of its £75m redevelopment plan. Tony McDonough reports
Banking giant Santander said its £75m plan to demolish and redevelop its Merseyside office complex is on hold due to COVID-19.
In October 2019 the Spanish company secured planning consent for the development in Bridle Road in Bootle, known locally as ‘the Giro’ in reference to its previous status as the headquarters of the old Girobank.
However, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown has seen the majority of the staff at the site working from home. Now Santander says it will “temporarily pause” the project while it consults its staff on “future ways of working”.
There has been a banking operation at the site since 1968 and Santander felt it was time it was given a major refresh. Last year it said Bootle would be the main contact centre and operations hub for Santander UK, a subsidiary of the Spanish banking group, and it could lead to the creation of another 500 jobs.
A new public park and new pavilions would be created as part of the plans, which would be open to the local community. It would also accommodate sporting and social facilities, with a retail offer accessible to employees and the wider public.
However, in the latest statement, Santander UK said: “We are temporarily pausing the site project we had planned in Bootle while we consider the impact of COVID-19 on our future ways of working. We have briefed our colleagues and CWU and will be working closely with them as our thinking progresses.”
Homeworking has become the norm for many officer workers in the past six months. New research out today from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which claims the phenomenon has been a positive experience for many people with 28% claiming it had boosted their productivity levels.
The forced experiment in working from home has prompted much new thinking within companies about whether or not they will need the same amount of office space in the next few years. However, this in turn has led to fears of the impact on city centre economies.