Hundreds of civil servants set to be stationed in new purpose-built office

Hundreds of civil servants are set to be stationed in a new purpose-built office when a government department opens up in the Black Country.

The new i9 office development in Wolverhampton is nearing completion
The new i9 office development in Wolverhampton is nearing completion

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is setting up a new headquarters in Wolverhampton this year, with 500 posts including senior civil servants to be based in the West Midlands by 2025.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the department was considering building a new office development in or around the city centre, while local leaders have suggested the i9 development as a temporary base.

It is hoped that staff will be working from the city by the summer.

Mr Jenrick said his team would be "scouting around" in the coming weeks for a suitable location – with Boris Johnson telling him to ensure it was "within walking distance" of the Express & Star office, where he previously did work experience.

"We will obviously look at a lot of sites," he said. "The city centre makes a lot of sense because of its transport links."

Stuart Anderson, the Conservative MP for Wolverhampton South West, said the i9 would be "perfect to start out". "But we have got to look longer term," he added.

"I would love to see a purpose-built building within our city centre, which could attract people into the city and build a whole ecosystem around that."

Ian Brookfield, leader of Wolverhampton Council, said there was space available in i9 to meet the department's timescale.

Recognition

He added: "As we move further down the line it will probably require a new building. We will do whatever we can to make the transition work."

Pat McFadden, the Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East, said civil servants would be "most welcome" in Bilston.

Jeremy Pocklington, permanent secretary at the MHCLG, said there was "recognition" in the department that it was important to move roles outside of London, and that the move to Wolverhampton had been "well received" by civil servants.

"We'll be starting to recruit in Wolverhampton in advance of having an office location identified," he said.

"We want to move quickly to recruit. We have got about 300 people in the region at the moment.

"We want to have at least 500 if not more people in the region by 2025 as part of our overall plans to have about 1,000 staff based outside of London."

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the new MHCLG site should be a "magnet" for businesses. "Hopefully it will spawn development in its own right," he said.

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