RCVS spends £20m on new London HQ

The RCVS has announced it has spent more than £20 million on a new central London headquarters building.

College council today (26 January) completed the purchase of new premises at 1-2 Hardwick Street in Clerkenwell for £20.5 million following the sale of its previous HQ at Belgravia House in Westminster to a private investor for £14.5 million.

Financial reserves
The £6 million shortfall between the sale price of Belgravia House and the new premises has been funded from the college’s financial reserves.

It is unclear if plans announced last year to host council meetings at venues outside London will still go ahead, with no firm date given for when the college will be able to move into its new Clerkenwell base.

Under the terms of the agreement with the new owners of Belgravia House, those staff who have not been working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic will have to vacate that building by 31 March.

Unfit for purpose
In a statement, the college said: “With Belgravia House becoming increasingly unfit for purpose in recent years, in terms of size, facilities and condition, the new building – a converted Victorian warehouse with open-plan office space spread across six floors – will ultimately provide the college with significantly more room and facilities to operate efficiently, much greater flexibility to accommodate traditional and new working practices, and the scope to fulfil its stated aim of becoming the regulator for the whole of the vet-led team.”

‘More meetings’
The statement continued: “The new premises are large enough not only to accommodate a larger staff and more college meetings and member/associate events, but also to cater for greater social distancing and hybrid working, if and when these might be required again in the future.

“Any unwanted space can be rented out, which would create income for the college while maintaining its investment. Two such existing tenants will continue to lease office space at 1-2 Hardwick Street for the time being and, although timescales are still to be finalised, some refurbishment work will need to be completed before the college and RCVS Knowledge teams can start to take some occupancy.”

Remote working
The college also confirmed that, following council’s earlier decision to terminate the lease on Belgravia House at the end of March, RCVS staff would continue to work either remotely or in temporary office space in Chancery Lane .

It added that, alongside these flexible working options, council and committees will continue to hold meetings on a mixed basis of in-person, hybrid and remote, with longer or larger meetings held at external venues as and when necessary.

‘Difficult journey’
Chief executive Lizzie Lockett said: “Like any property purchase, it has been an extremely long and difficult journey to get to this point, with many challenges to navigate along the way, but I am delighted that we are finally able to announce our new home.

“While we will have to wait a while longer before we can enjoy everything 1-2 Hardwick Street has to offer, we are very much looking forward to welcoming members of the professions to visit our new offices, and being able to host a variety of meetings and new events there for them.

“None of this would have been possible without a tremendous amount of hard work and perseverance by our estate strategy group, chaired by former RCVS president Barry Johnson MRCVS and, in particular, our director of operations, Corrie McCann. I would like to thank everyone who has supported us to this point.”

Credit to: RCVS spends £20m on new London HQ (Vet Times)

Vet Times. (2022). RCVS spends £20m on new London HQ [online]

Available at: https://www.vettimes.co.uk/news/rcvs-spends-20m-on-new-london-hq/