The Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has accepted an offer for the sale of Belgravia House, the College’s Westminster offices since 1995, to a private investor for £14m, in a deal which has recently completed.
The deal includes an option for the RCVS to lease back the building for up to two years to allow time for Council to consider fully the future building requirements of the organisation, and how these may have changed following the coronavirus pandemic.
Completion of the sale marks an exciting new chapter in the College’s long history, as it considers afresh how its future has been shaped by the events of the past 12 months.
Having previously recognised that the building was rapidly becoming unfit for purpose, needed more up-to-date and modern facilities, and more room for a growing workforce, RCVS Council decided in November 2018 that the time had come to put the building on the market. The College’s Estates Strategy Project Board was tasked with managing the process, chaired by former RCVS President Barry Johnson.
RCVS Treasurer Susan Dawson said: “Council recognised that this deal realised maximum value for the building, especially considering the impact the pandemic has had on property prices in Central London.
“It also provides a very valuable opportunity to reflect on the changing needs of the organisation and the professions and public it serves, and to consider the requirements and different working patterns of the College staff going forwards.
“It is likely that many staff members will wish to continue to work at home more than they did pre-Covid, so the need for pure desk-space may not be as great as we had planned for the 10-15 years ahead. However, the importance of in-person meetings for collaboration, creativity and the maintenance of good corporate culture is not to be underestimated, so our new requirements are likely to be different to that anticipated back in 2018.”
By early June, the College expects to be able to welcome limited numbers of staff to return to the office in a safe and socially-distanced way, which will include the provision of facilities for hybrid meetings.
These changes to working patterns will also help inform decisions around future remote working policies and, in turn, the type and size of building that will best suit the future needs of the College and its workforce, the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions and the public.