TAXPAYERS will save at least £200,000 a year due to West Dorset District Council’s office move, according to council chiefs.

Bids from companies vying to build the first phase of the £60million Charles Street development in Dorchester, which includes new headquarters for the district council, have come in at £1million lower than expected resulting in the savings.

A spokesman for West Dorset District Council said the reduced construction costs, the continuing low interest rates and the buildings’ new energy saving features will mean the district council will save more than £200,000 a year instead of the £145,000 quoted until now.

However, Dorchester town councillor and West Dorset district councillor Andy Canning slammed the figures as ‘misleading’.

He said: “The point is that they have fixed these figures to make it look good but in fact they won’t achieve these savings at all.

“Public buildings notoriously turn out to be more expensive to build than estimated.

“They are also relying on getting £3.5m for selling the existing building which is a ridiculous sum in this property market.”

He added that West Dorset District Council had not taken other costs into account, including the proposed park and ride site to make up for loss of parking in the town centre.

Councillors voted six to two in favour of the planning application, including the council office block, a library, shops, a new Waitrose supermarket, a hotel, flats and underground parking, at a district council development control committee meeting in September.

Dorset County Council will be providing and funding the new public library and adult education centre.

When the development was given the green light, the district office block was thought to cost £10m but that has now reduced to £9m.

The positive vote for the development came after 30 years of failed schemes and debates over the prime site – covered by car parks – in the town centre, despite a barrage of protests and 2,200 of residents voting against the move in a town poll in April. West Dorset District Council leader Robert Gould said he understood why the new building had been ‘controversial for some’, but that the move is ‘essential’ during the current economic climate.

He said that the total construction cost of the offices has reduced to £9million while the offices plus Dorset County Council’s library and adult education centre has reduced from £14.1million to £13.1million.

Coun Gould said: “As a result of savings on construction, interest rates, and running costs our best estimate is that moving offices will now take over £200,000 off our annual running costs, compared to the £145,000 we have quoted up until now.

“I understand why our move to a new building has proved controversial for some, but the current financial climate makes the move to smaller offices essential – it will cost local taxpayers £200,000 a year more if we stay put.”

More information about the development can be seen at

Extra energy saving measures have been added to plans for West Dorset District Council’s new Charles Street offices that could save the authority £70,000 a year in energy bills.

A planning application for the Dorchester town centre office block was approved by the council in September and additional eco-friendly features have now been added to the design.

Features such as photovoltaic cells to generate electricity, high level insulation and ventilation using the cooling effect of natural air temperature are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 327,000kg annually – the equivalent of planting 15,000 trees.

West Dorset District Council Leader Robert Gould said: “Our primary aim in moving to a smaller office is to cut running costs.

“In total the move will save £200,000 per year for the taxpayer – even taking into account the cost of building the office – and much of this saving will come from fuel bills.” Developers Simons has also now submitted plans to demolish public toilets, boundary walls and other ancillary buildings on the new site.