CHESHIRE West and Chester Council has announced it will be downsizing its total office space as more of its workforce will increasingly work from home.

Current council bases at Civic Way in Ellesmere Port, Goldsmith House in Chester and Tarvin Centre will close to staff, while the council will also reduce its use of Nicholas House, off Nicholas Street, in Chester.

Staff will now mainly work from three premises in the borough. They are the revamped and smaller HQ Chester premises, where council staff will use the ground and third floors, the new The Portal building in Ellesmere Port, and existing council offices at Wyvern House in Winsford.

The authority says the combination of fewer premises and encouraging staff to work from home in a 'hybrid' system will save the council millions of pounds in running costs, as well as be more environmentally friendly.

The Portal in Ellesmere Port, the council’s new public service hub and operational headquarters, is now complete, with council staff and partner organisations moving in and beginning to deliver services to the public from next month.

The building is available to the public, with a range of support services on offer in one place for residents of the borough.

The council is in the final stages of withdrawing from Civic Way in Ellesmere Port, Goldsmith House in Chester, the Tarvin Centre, and all but the third and ground floor of HQ Chester. The council has also reduced its use of Nicholas House in Chester, with a small part of the building retained as a base for the Cheshire Pension Fund.

Councillor Louise Gittins, leader of the council, said: “Overall, savings of around £5.9m over the next 10 years are expected as a result of this investment to set up these three key hubs to enable and support new flexible working environments for our staff.

"As well as saving money, the focus is on improving the standard of our buildings, investing in technology and improving office culture by adopting a flexible approach.

“We are encouraging flexible, agile, and home-working. Fewer council colleagues will now work in an office on a daily basis, allowing us to make savings on space and resources.

"However, only working from home can put a strain on people’s mental health and well-being, and reduce opportunities for productive engagement with residents, colleagues, councillors and partners.

"So, our new office spaces will be informal, bright and welcoming places which encourage collaboration and innovation. They’ll provide new technology and collaborative spaces to work together and with partners, which will lead to better outcomes for our residents.”

The vacated buildings will now form part of regeneration programmes for Chester and Ellesmere Port.

The council added the impact on buildings emissions has been very positive, with a 10,000,000kwh reduction in energy use within council buildings - equivalent to powering 2,500 homes for a year.