Landmark council deal to keep the AA in Basingstoke
The high profile company is set to leave Fanum House and move into new headquarters in Basing View, thanks to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s forward-thinking plan to work with property developer Abstract on a state-of-the-art new office building.
The borough council’s Cabinet is set to make a decision on agreeing the terms of this property deal at a meeting next Tuesday (11 April).
Around 700 staff currently work in Fanum House, which opened in 1973. But the building no longer provides the modern offices that the AA needs, especially as the company has upgraded technology to meet the needs of its customers in the digital age.
As landowner of the town’s central business district, the borough council is well advanced on a transformational regeneration programme for Basing View, which has already seen Waitrose and John Lewis locate their largest combined store in the town and Network Rail open a regional campus and training hub there.
This drive to create a business location of regional importance saw the council investing money in preparing a site for redevelopment to take advantage of the demand for high quality new office space. The council has granted a long lease on this land to Abstract Securities for the construction of the new ‘grade A’ 60,535 square foot office building, which will be completed in 2018.
The AA looked at other locations but decided to commit to Basingstoke thanks to the availability of this new modern office space, as well as the town’s excellent transport connections, proximity to London and access to a skilled workforce.
The decision being taken by Cabinet would release the AA from its existing lease in return for a compensation payment and on the condition that the company stays in Basing View and takes over the new premises. In time, this would release the existing AA site for more new development.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Property and Development Cllr John Izett said: “This deal would be a major vote of confidence in Basingstoke. The AA has been synonymous with Basingstoke for over 40 years and thanks to this deal the council would be able to grant the company’s wish to remain one of the town’s most notable, good employers. This deal would safeguard high quality jobs and bring significant extra investment into Basing View, vindicating our decision to invest in preparing the new headquarters site for redevelopment.”
The council is keen to capitalise on the increased investor and occupier interest of the AA committing to Basingstoke. It would come just as part of Basing View becomes an Enterprise Zone offering business rates benefits to companies setting up home there.
Fanum House does not meet today’s energy efficiency standards, meaning rising running costs and reduced comfort for employees, and its layout and mechanical, electrical and technology set-up is so out of date that a number of floors in the tower have had to be ‘mothballed’.
The AA would also be expected to benefit from its new headquarters building being in the soon to be created Basing View Enterprise Zone – a government designation gives business rates relief to companies creating new modern premises to grow their businesses. The council will be reimbursed by the government for this business growth retention.