A THREE-YEAR renovation project to overhaul Southampton’s Civic Centre has been completed.

Construction firm Wates Construction has finished a major refurbishment of the home of Southampton City Council.

The work to renovate the Grade II* listed building was commissioned in 2009 as part of a major office shake-up which saw hundreds of staff move.

Staff moved from council buildings across Southampton to the Civic Centre and the Gateway building in Guildhall Square to save up to £700,000.

Conservative council chiefs at the time deemed the £15million project as vital to getting the building back to full operational use, while it was in need of extensive repairs.

With the last major upgrade carried out in the 1930s stonework, steelwork, roofs and windows needed to be repaired, and asbestos removed.

And now the work, which included services such as heating, lighting, IT and communications, which had reached the end of their useful life, means the building will not need maintenance work for at least ten years.

The work also provided jobs for 19 city residents, including seven apprentices and a graduate trainee.

And 23 youngsters gained work experience during the refurbishment, while Wates held 15 construction workshops for school and college students.

Speaking after the work was completed, current Labour council leader Simon Letts said: “This project of essential works to our much loved Civic Centre building has made it fit for purpose in the long term and allowed us to reduce the number of buildings we use significantly thus helping us to save considerable amounts of public money. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team at Wates for delivering the project.”

Wates’ regional business unit director Gary Campbell-Dykes said: “This is an historic building that has sat at the heart of Southampton town centre for over 80 years. Being involved in its intricate restoration and helping to upgrade the facility to help meet current standards has been a real privilege for Wates Construction and we are delighted to have completed the multi-phased work to time and on budget.

“We believe the works have very much helped to ensure this prominent Civic building has a secure future.”

History of Southampton Civic Centre

• Possibly Southampton’s most iconic building, discussions were first held about a new home for the borough council offices in the late 19th century.

• Former mayor and alderman Sidney Kimber brought forward plans for a headquarters for local government in 1924, and objections against those proposals led to a design competition being held.

• Architect Ernest Berry Webber’s design was eventually chosen, and the land at West Marlands was formally acquired in 1928.

• Prince Albert, Duke of York and later King George VI, laid the foundation stone in a ceremony on July 1, 1930.

• The south wing, which currently contains council offices was the first section to be completed, and was opened by Prince Albert in 1932.

• The north wing, which now houses the City Art Gallery and Central Library, was the last section to be finished and was opened in 1939.

• The building was the first in the UK to be called 'Civic Centre'.

• The building currently contains the city council offices, City Art Gallery, Central Library and the newly-renamed O2 Guildhall concert venue.