Plans to sell several county council buildings has been given the go-ahead in a move to generate around £7.6 million.

The plan comes after a review that pointed out the poor status of some Hampshire County Council buildings and the new way of working since Covid-19, which resulted in less office use.

Some properties have already been sold including redundant office block Capital House in Andover Road, Winchester, bought last year by Southampton University for use by Winchester School of Art.

In 2023, a review was undertaken to address the extra office capacity and find opportunities to further reduce the number of buildings and associated facilities.

The review found that the county council could reduce the number of buildings by moving services, developing new working methods, and using retained buildings more efficiently.

READ MORE HERE: County council sells Winchester office block to Southampton University

This review incorporated main area office hubs and ancillary sites, library buildings, register offices, former children’s centre buildings and corporate storage across the county.

Although libraries and register offices were included in the review, it did not consider closing any libraries or other public services. Those buildings were included to consider how any office space within them might be used in the future.

All assets on the review are currently used as offices, meeting spaces for county council employees, or spaces that can accommodate staff and services in office buildings.

Around 2,000 county council employees work from the buildings under review. On average, only 30 per cent of desks are in use at any one time, with only half ever in use at one time.

The total amount spent on property, which includes rent, rates, and utilities, for all the buildings under review was £3.3 million net of rental income and £3.7 million gross. Ten assets under review contribute to 70 per cent of the total property costs, reports said.

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Cllr Adrian Collett, Lib Dem, asked if the annual savings of £1.8 million found during the review is “all that we will save by doing this” since he expected a much higher figure.

Council officers said savings came “purely” from office accommodation or direct costs related to rates, business or utilities.

They said: “There are potentially more savings to be made through organisational efficiency, other savings, and other parts of the organisation, and also consider the amount of capital receipt, and this is obviously year-on-year savings from now on and once we’re able to implement those changes.

Cllr Collett said: “So to be clear, what we’re talking about here is the ongoing revenue savings with no reference to the capital receipts that will come in.”

It is estimated that the sale of the assets identified in the review could generate £7.6 million.

The leader of Hampshire County Council, Rob Humby, Conservative, said that before the pandemic, there was a plan to review council assets, and the proposal just “accelerated” those plans.

Cllr Humby said: “There’s been a massive piece of work, but I also would like to say that it was already ongoing before Covid. This has sort of accelerated it to a degree.

“Since Covid, the world has changed, the way we travel has changed, work patterns have changed, and now it is absolutely the right time to accelerate this and look at this.

“As I said, it is a huge piece of work, and then you’ve got to think about the consequences of what we’re doing and make sure we have capacity. We’ve got to make sure we have the capacity to cope with that as well, and I think the way we set it up with the delegations also ensures we can be agile.”