PART of Somerset Council’s Taunton headquarters could be sold off and turned into housing as the council seeks to cut costs.

Somerset Council has been reviewing its existing portfolio of land, property and assets, selling off buildings which are no longer required in order to generate funding for front-line services.

Part of County Hall on The Crescent, known as C Block, has been on the chopping block following the refurbishment of other parts of the building and many staff working from home or other locations in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

The council has now confirmed it intends to sell off C Block as soon as possible, with a view to the building being converted for “key worker accommodation.”

An update on C Block’s status came before the council’s corporate and resources scrutiny committee when it met in Taunton on Thursday (March 7).

Sara Kelly, the council’s property rationalisation programme manager, stated that the council’s asset management group had declared C Block to be surplus to requirement when it met in confidential session on February 16.

She elaborated in her report: “Detailed analysis of staff data has confirmed that there is no requirement to retain C Block.

“Occupancy data shows that staffing requirements can be met within the rest of the campus.”

Each of the existing council headquarters are currently underutilised with large numbers of empty or unused desks.

At County Hall, A Block has enough space for 458 desks – but on average only 98 were used on any given day in September 2023 (the most recent figures available).

B Block also has low levels of occupancy, with an average of 116 desks being used each day out of a maximum of 722.

Ms Kelly continued: “Work has been undertaken to understand how C Block can be separated from the remaining campus.

“The sale of the whole site is not likely to deliver significantly more value than sale of parts of the site.

“There is considerable interest in C Block, and discussions are well developed
regarding the potential to deliver key worker accommodation on the site.”

C Block lies within a short distance of Musgrove Park Hospital, meaning it could be an attractive proposition for new or current NHS staff.

The neighbouring Bedford House (formerly the back office of Debenhams) is currently being converted into 69 flats after planning permission was granted in September 2021.

The council has not indicated how many new homes or flats could be delivered within the C Block footprint.

Ms Kelly said: “A pre-sales condition survey and architectural advice has been obtained and the property is ready for market.

“The proposal is to include the land to the front of C Block to form a wider parcel of land for potential development.”