Council offices, St Leonard’s Place

September 2011

Council offices, St Leonard's Place

Work is underway on the new council HQ at West Offices on Station Rise. This building on St Leonard’s Place, an elegant classical terrace built in the 1830s, houses many of the council’s offices at present.

Many people expressed the view that the move to new premises was a waste of money, yet it was clearly necessary, as this building must be very costly to maintain. Though once handsome and elegant, it’s looking scruffy and dilapidated these days.

Detail of balcony, with weed, St Leonard's Place

I passed when the railings were being painted, some years ago, with gold details added to every upright piece. Not really practical for a local authority building.

Its stonework is dirty and in parts looking somewhat crumbly. Into one of the cracks in the stonework of the balcony this rosebay willow herb seeded itself years ago. This may be the same plant photographed on a previous visit in 2004 (when the building looked clean and smart). If so, it’s as impressively tenacious as the buddleia that has been growing from the top floor of the old WMC building on Lawrence Street for the last seven years or so.

As the new HQ is based in another 19th century building, there may be similar issues with upkeep in the future. But hopefully they won’t have to prop the sash windows open with office box files, as they do here.

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