Liverpool City Council announces proposed sale of Municipal Buildings

Grade II-listed site in Dale Street first became the council’s headquarters in the 1860s and may be a suitable location for a luxury hotel. Tony McDonough reports.

Municipal Buildings in Dale Street, Liverpool city centre
Municipal Buildings in Dale Street, Liverpool city centre

Liverpool City Council’s former headquarters in Dale Street is to be sold as the authority looks to make £90m of savings over the next three years.

Mayor Joe Anderson and hundreds of council staff relocated from the Grade II-listed Municipal Buildings to the waterfront Cunard Building in early 2014.

Municipal Buildings has space for 1,000 people but only 640 employees remain there and now the council is proposing to sell the site, which first became its home in the 1860s.

Signature on alert?

The sale of the building is sure to alert developers keen to convert it into other uses.

One developer that may be keen on the site is Signature Living, which has specialised in turning historic buildings into themed hotels.

In the past couple of years the firm has created both the 30 James Street and Shakily hotels in the city centre and it is thought Municipal Buildings would be an ideal location for another luxury hotel.

Too costly

Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, Cabinet member for regeneration, said: “Municipal Buildings has been a magnificent home for Liverpool City Council but it is a very costly building to run and maintain and we no longer have the staff numbers to justify retaining it.

“We want to find out the level of interest that there is from potential purchasers with a view to finding a long-term sustainable use for the site which will also create new jobs.

“This is a listed building and I want to reassure people that it will be protected and we will ensure that its future use protects its unique architectural features.”

A need for savings

The proposal is part of a city council accommodation strategy which aims to deliver significant ongoing savings and generate funding which can be reinvested in reducing the costs of the city’s major infrastructure projects programme.

Under the proposal being considered, workers will be moved to other existing sites across the city such as Cunard Building at the Pier Head, Premier Court on Hatton Garden, Venture Place on Sir Thomas Street and Wavertree Customer Focus Centre on Wavertree Road.

The One Stop Shop based in Municipal Buildings will be relocated to a self-contained unit within the refurbished St John’s Market, ensuring that customers can still access council services in a central location.

Consideration is also being given to putting other public-facing Government services in the facility to generate wider savings.

A back up data centre which is based in the building and was due to be upgraded shortly will be moved to Cunard Building.

If approved, Municipal Buildings will be marketed for sale in the autumn with the outcome brought back to Cabinet in due course for a final decision.

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