Sheffield New Deal offices project criticised

Posted on by John Cronin

A public-private sector office scheme in Sheffield is in the spotlight after failing to achieve planned rental income.

Sorby HouseThe New Deal for Communities body in Sheffield, known as Burngreave NDC, oversaw a project to redevelop an old office building once occupied by the Department for Social Security. Burngreave NDC spent some £4.5million converting the Sorby House building (pictured) into Grade A rated, high specification, flexible office space. The project was not expected to be profit making.

The refurbished office building was opened in 2007 with the aim of providing employment support and serviced offices for local residents and commercial floor space for businesses and third sector organisations to rent. The building offers office suites and hot-desking facilities over four floors, ranging in floor spaces from 145 sq ft up to 2532 sq ft. On site meeting room and conference facilities are also available.

The scheme faces an uncertain future however as low occupancy rates and demand from the commercial sector mean that the project is not currently financially viable according to reports, including an editorial column in The Star, a regional newspaper for South Yorks. New Deal for Communities projects are now required to put forward viable succession plans to the Government before March 2011 as central funding is scheduled to end and it was planned to turn Sorby House in to an independent, charitable trust.

However, Jeremy Diskin, executive asset manager at Burngreave NDC, has said “just 48 per cent of the building is occupied and it is not generating sufficient revenue to cover its running costs”. Burngreave NDC chair Ronnie Lewin said: “Unless we come up with a new business plan, we will have to transfer the asset back to the local authority.”

Burngreave NDC has already returned control of two other office buildings to Sheffield Council.

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