Civic chiefs are planning to dispose of a landmark building occupied by two restaurants and one of the city's universities.

Cash-strapped Southampton City Council wants to sell the freehold of One Guildhall Square (OGS) following the relocation of staff who were based in part of the five-storey complex.

Workers have moved back to the Civic Centre, leaving two and a half floors vacant.

The council acquired the freehold of the former C&A store in 2001. The proposed sale comes as the authority strives to balance the books by boosting income and slashing expenditure.

Daily Echo: Cash-strapped Southampton City Council is planning to sell the freehold of One Guildhall SquareCash-strapped Southampton City Council is planning to sell the freehold of One Guildhall Square (Image: Newsquest)

Medigold and two restaurants, Turtle Bay and Preez, occupy two of the three ground-floor units.

The University of Southampton occupies the fourth and fifth floors, plus part of the third. The rest of the building is standing empty following the council's departure.

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A report outlining the proposed sale has been produced by Cllr Simon Letts, cabinet member for finance and change.

The report says: "The council no longer requires OGS for its corporate use and, following a review of options available, it's recommended to dispose of the building.

"The disposal will generate a capital receipt alongside reducing revenue expenditure and future liabilities.

"After the Covid pandemic and the new flexible working arrangements implemented across the council, it became clear that the council would not need to retain OGS for council office accommodation.

"By spring 2023 all the council office accommodation in OGS had been vacated and staff moved to the Civic Centre.

"By July 2023 the Gateway Service had relocated from the ground floor of OGS to the Civic Centre.

"A three-year lease for vacant space on the first and second floors was recently negotiated. However, in the advanced stages of negotiations, the proposed letting did not proceed and is no longer required by the prospective tenant."

Daily Echo: Cllr Simon Letts is cabinet minister for finance and changeCllr Simon Letts is cabinet minister for finance and change (Image: Newsquest.)

The report says a "special interest party" has the necessary resources to buy the freehold.

"There are preliminary discussions underway with proposed key timescales of drafting the Heads of Terms by the end of December 2023 with a view to finalising the sale by 31st March 2024."

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If the proposed purchase goes ahead the council will cease to own the freehold or any interest in OGS.

The report says: "The building includes the leases to the two commercial premises, Turtle Bay and Preez. These will pass to the special interest party.

"All links to the council will be removed including any IT connections. The council will cease to provide reception, cleaning and security services.

"Any agreements relating to the building will be passed to the special interest party including the agreement regarding the link to the district heating system."

The report adds: "The new freeholder could seek to change the use of the building and the units within it.

"This being the case, the adopted Development Plan and emerging Southampton City Vision Local Plan seek to ensure a mix of uses are delivered in the area surrounding Guildhall Square to meet employment and/or community needs."

A decision on the future of the building is due to be taken on November 15.

The council has been contacted for more information on the proposed sale, including any implications for the district heating system.