Following the sale of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ (RCVS) Westminster premises in March 2021, RCVS Council has recently decided that the organisation, including its charity partner RCVS Knowledge, will now formally vacate the premises by 31 March 2022.
The original sale agreement included an option to lease back Belgravia House for up to two years to allow Council time to consider fully the future building requirements of the organisation, and how these might have changed following the coronavirus pandemic.
Following easing of government restrictions this summer and the government’s encouragement to return to work, RCVS Council members and staff have resumed use of the building for some meetings and day-to-day working, however building occupancy and use has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.
In view of this, together with the fact that it would take some time to move in to any new permanent headquarters, RCVS Council agreed at its recent meeting [11 November 2021] that there was now a clear financial benefit to moving out at the first opportunity under the existing terms of lease.
Lizzie Lockett, RCVS Chief Executive, said: “As we all gradually emerge from the restrictions of the past 18 months, one of the things we, as an organisation, have learned from the pandemic is that we can cope well with remote and hybrid working, whilst continuing to provide a high level of service to the professions and the animal-owning public.
“Retaining the use of our current offices over the last few months has certainly helped us to do this, but our Estates Strategy Group recommended to Council that there was now little to be gained and much to lose financially if we continued to lease Belgravia House for another year.”
“In the coming weeks, we will be drawing up detailed plans for the safe removal and storage of our effects, including the library, historical collection and archives, which are maintained by RCVS Knowledge. To support the team until we can move into a permanent building, we will hire serviced office space and meeting rooms around London and elsewhere in the UK as and when we need them.
“We also plan to take Council meetings ‘on the road’ over the next 12 months to enable Council members to engage with more veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses around the country.
“Meanwhile, we remain fully committed to the purchase of a new permanent London home for the RCVS and are seeking a building that not only meets the needs of the professions both now and well into the future, but also aims to be a sound financial investment for the College in the years ahead.”