24 January 2024

Mclaren, Surrey and Woking set to agree major new property deal

Source: Get Surrey

A major deal between McLaren, Surrey County Council, and Woking Borough Council could potentially pave the way for the authority to sell its headquarters. McLaren is to pay off its leasehold interests in Victoria Gate, Chobham Road, which in turn will allow Woking to flip the freehold to Surrey County Council.

The fallout will result in a large windfall for the Borough. This can be measured both in terms of the revenue generated by the sale as well as increased footfall in Woking town centre from the 600 Surrey County Council staff moving into Victoria Gate.

Moving Surrey County Council staff would, the Borough hopes, “generate needed additional town centre footfall alongside additional retail, leisure and catering spending" the documents read. Woking will also be renting about 250 car parking spaces to the county, generating additional income while simultaneously “bringing a currently underused asset into occupation”.

The deal also includes a condition that secures Woking Borough Council an option to occupy the fourth and part of the fifth floors of Victoria Gate - although it said it would only exercise this option if it proved to be “the most cost effective solution”.

According to papers presented to the Thursday, January 18, Executive Committee, the deal would also remove “competitive” office space that was “undercutting” the Council. Taking the McLaren building off the market, it said, would “benefit” other Woking Borough Council buildings “by having a greater chance to attract new tenants”.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Ann-Marie Barker, thought it was a good deal for Woking. She said: “McLaren moved into this space a little before the lockdown and the Covid period and they’ve literally found their business model has changed and they don't need all that space anymore."

Cllr Barker said: “They are already pretty close to the centre at the moment but moving to the Victoria Gate premises does bring them right into the heart of the centre, and hopefully there will be more benefit to the shops and business in the central area.

“We do have an option to take some space in there ourselves. That would be a move from these premises to those premises that would only be done when a full assessment would prove that it would be the most cost effective solution for this Council going forward.

“We are looking at this space and looking at what the best moves are going forward. It would only be a move to there if it really was the most cost effective move for Woking Borough Council."

The financial details have so far been kept private. However the public papers read: “Whilst a review of the civic town centre campus is currently in hand to establish the optimum revised footprint and civic requirements going forward the results of this work are unlikely to provide a clear strategic approach until early/mid 2024.

“Although it is not currently considered a likely scenario in order to ensure all possibilities remain in play, Woking Borough Council has therefore secured the ability to share occupation of the building by triggering an option to do so any time up to three months post completion of the sale.

“The terms of any occupation by Woking Borough Council...may be agreed on a rental basis at terms to be negotiated at the time.”

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