New council headquarters in the centre of Peterhead opened to the public last week, offering a one-stop-shop for a range of council services.
Buchan House, which opened at 11am on Monday, May 11, now houses council services which formerly occupied a range of premises throughout the town at its new location on St Peter Street.
A mix of primary 5 and 6 pupils from Peterhead Central School were given a guided tour of the new, state-of-the-art facility on Wednesday, May 13 by Buchan Area Manager, Chris White.
The pupils had carried out a study on the building from its design to completion and were excited to get a look around.
While on their visit, the pupils met staff members and asked them what they do at the council.
Commenting on the visit, Mr White said: “The pupils were asking lots of good probing questions about what the council does in Peterhead and all the services it provides.
“They’ve been in to see Planning, Environmenal Health, Economic Development, they’ve seen the Area Manager’s staff, they’ve been to Housing and Social Work, and spent particular time in Education and Children’s Services, learning about all the various things that are done to support the teaching envrionment for the primary schools in Peterhead.
“It’s been a lovely morning and great to see such enthusiastic young people coming in to the building.”
Around 200 members of staff have moved in gradually as the building work has come to completion and are now ready to provide services to local residents.
Mr White said: “It’s been really reassuring to see the staff coming from 11 different offices all settling in, getting everything unpacked, and able to deliver good quality customer service to everybody.”
The keys to the building were recently handed to the council by contractors Robertson Construction as the major spend-to-save project comes to a conclusion.
A formal opening will take place in June and emails and phone numbers remain the same until further notice.
The new offices have transformed a derelict and brownfield site at St Peter Street, contributing to ongoing regeneration efforts in the town.
It is a hub for both employees and residents, operating as a one-stop-shop for customers to access 16 different services.
Aberdeenshire Council awarded the £5million contract to Robertson Construction Ltd following a competitive tender exercise.
The council is marketing the buildings it is vacating in Peterhead, with a focus on attracting occupants which will benefit the area.
Mr White added: “I know some people in Peterhead will say this is a £5 million investment and other priorities exist in the town, but as part of a whole life business case, it’s about trying to provide a modern, good quality environment working place which is not overblessed.
“It’s certainly the right size for the organisation that we are and part of that is really reducing the overall revenue costs in the long-term for the council and for the council tax payer, which bluntly means more money to spend on fixing pot holes and all the other things that the council does in Buchan which is a key part of why we are here.
“It’s been really great to see so many people interested in the design and what goes on here, and I’m very hopeful that we will have an open day to the public at some point after the official opening in June.”
Here is a list of FAQs about the new building, which might be useful:
Who will be based in the building?
Staff spanning Communities, Education and Children’s Services, Infrastructure Services and Business Services will be located within the new office.
There are a range of multi-purpose spaces which will be useful for the full range of service personnel sharing the building.
What public services will be available at Buchan House?
A Service Point will operate at the new facility providing a one-stop-shop for esidents in the Buchan area.
Multi-skilled advisors will deal with a variety of customer queries including payments for council services, questions around waste or recycling, reporting faults and applying for National Entitlement Cards or Blue Badges.
Customers can also make appointments to see a registrar via the Service Point.
What will happen to other Aberdeenshire Council offices in Peterhead?
The other main offices in Peterhead will close.
Signage will be put in place at each location advising the public to visit Buchan House for services.
Why is this move taking place?
This is part of a council programme to create a reduced number of improved offices for council employees and service users.
It will allow the council to make the best use of space and resources while also enabling staff to enjoy more choice when it comes to the way we work and a better resulting work/life balance.
Service users will benefit from all services being located in one place.
Will there be car and cycle parking for public use?
Buchan House has several public parking spaces to the front of the building, including accessible parking.
The main car park is designated for council employees and given the central location, visitors to the building are encouraged to use alternative forms of transport where possible.
Weekend use by shoppers and visitors is welcome.
Covered bicycle racks are available to the side of the building.
Can I still contact members of staff using their current telephone number?
Yes, unless otherwise advised.