SURREY County Council has cancelled plans to move its headquarters to Woking, due to the current restrictions involved with the coronavirus pandemic.

The authority was due to leave County Hall in Kingston and move to Midas House in Goldsworth Road. Back in November, county council leader Tim Oliver said staff would begin to move out of Kingston in phases from spring 2020.

But the global pandemic has curtailed any immediate plans to establish Woking as Surrey’s civic heart.

“Although I am disappointed the county council will not be moving to Woking as planned, this was inevitable with the current pandemic. The council is rightly focused on fighting coronavirus and protecting vulnerable local people,” said Will Forster, county councillor for Woking South as well as borough councillor for Hoe Valley, and chairman of the task group responsible for scrutinising the move.

“If this move went ahead, there was a real risk the county council would have purchased Midas House when the property market was at a high before the coronavirus pandemic but sold County Hall in Kingston-upon-Thames when property was cheaper afterwards. That would be unacceptable and not be value for money for taxpayers.”

Cllr Forster said that, as a result of the COVID-19 situation, the current tenants of Midas House cannot move out and the council cannot get access to all of the building to make it suitable for its use.

In addition, the procurement and commissioning of a contractor to carry out the necessary works to turn Midas House into a County Hall style property was just not possible under the current lockdown constraints.

He added: “I am pleased the council has agreed with me that Woking remains the best place for the county council to have its civic heart once the pandemic is over.”