Aberdeenshire Council chiefs have denied suggestions that uncertainty over the future of a north-east headquarters is costing taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds.
The authority’s Partnership administration has unveiled ambitious plans to relocate from its Woodhill House base in Aberdeen to a bespoke office at a Highland League football ground.
The group has argued Woodhill House is no longer fit for purpose – but now it has emerged nearly 15,000sqft of office space is currently lying empty and available for lease.
It is understood the space could be worth as much as £300,000 per year to the authority’s coffers if tenants could be found.
However, the proposal to create a replacement HQ at Inverurie Loco Works FC’s Harlaw Park has stalled and it is not known when or even if Woodhill House will be sold off and demolished.
A cross-party working group to consider the best way forward has now been formed.
In the meantime, the upper offices at Woodhill House remain empty and have been advertised as being available to rent.
But last night council co-leader Alison Evison insisted the question mark over the building’s future was not dissuading potential tenants.
She said: “Officers have been trying to rent out parts of Woodhill House for several years without success.
“The current position has not had an identifiable impact on that. A key factor is that Woodhill House is in need of a huge investment to maintain the building.”
She argued the working group was vital to finding a “responsible” way forward for the council.
Fellow co-leader, Richard Thomson, added: “The stark reality is that, even if tenants could be found, it still wouldn’t resolve the need to take major multi-million pound decisions in the very near future about refurbishing Woodhill House.
“Those are the sorts of issues that the working group will need to get to grips with as it works towards reporting to full council in January.”