Measures outlined to rationalise our estate and make it more financially and environmentally sustainable

Published: 27th March 2024

A plan will be presented to Councillors outlining an approach to rationalise, optimise and decarbonise the our extensive property portfolio.

Creating efficiencies and driving sustainability 

The move will help achieve efficiencies, make us more sustainable and deliver key services.

The proposed measures would see a reduction in the amount of underutilised property we own, the use and occupation of key assets maximised and the introduction of measures to significantly reduce C02 emissions.

The need for streamlining 

It follows a review of our estate which was undertaken in 2022 and identified the need to streamline an ageing and oversized estate which wasn’t meeting the needs of local communities and was financially unsustainable.

This is also tied in with service redesign and delivery considerations which can help to allow the reduction in the estate and mitigate those changes through services being delivered in either a different way or from another location.

Within the proposal, five key objectives are outlined to help achieve our overall vision of sustainability:

  • Operate an efficient, fit-for-purpose, sustainable estate
  • Be appropriately sized
  • Meet the needs of our communities and their strong identities
  • Have digitally enabled working environments that can be effectively managed
  • Support the Council Plan through the delivery of joined up services

Steps already taken 

Important steps have already been taken to help achieve these long-term objectives with the appointment of a Chief Officer for Estates overseeing several key functions of the department and the commencement of a programme of condition and suitability surveys assessing the estate to enable a more strategic approach to how each building is managed.

Work has also been done to repurpose and optimise our offices in Newtown St Boswells as a Civic Hub, opening the facility up as a workspace for other organisations including Live Borders and NHS Borders to enable more collaborative working and share operational costs.

Assessment of sport, leisure and cultural buildings 

A related project will also be undertaken jointly by ourselves and Live Borders to review and consult on the future of the buildings we own which are used for sport, leisure and cultural services.

These facilities will be assessed based on various criteria including maintenance and repair costs, decreasing user numbers, increased running costs and where there is the potential to relocate or co-locate services.

Councillor Simon Mountford, Executive Member for Estate Management and Planning:

“The process of estate rationalisation is a crucial step in helping to create operational efficiencies, enabling us to live within its means in the years to come.

“Our estate is ageing and the large and dispersed nature of our portfolio of properties places pressure on services with valuable resources used up keeping them functional and in reasonable condition.

“This plan outlines a clear strategy for making significant long-term savings across the estate through the rationalisation of property, targeted investment and an increased focus in reducing energy costs.

“This means vital services and key assets can instead by prioritised and protected in the longer term helping support a more sustainable Council that delivers for its residents.”