Controversial Dundee development is new social security agency headquarters


Social security headquarters in Dundee

image captionSocial Security Scotland’s David Wallace, (left)) joined Shirley-Anne Somerville and John Alexander for the announcement

A controversial development beside Dundee’s V&A Museum has been announced as the headquarters of Scotland’s new social security agency.

Social Security Scotland has taken a 20-year lease to become the first tenants in the Site Six office block.

The building will give the agency space to employ up to 900 people across its three sites in Dundee.

Critics say it blocks views of the museum, with Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde

calling it “a monstrosity.”

However, V&A Dundee architect Kengo Kuma said surrounding developments were an “appropriate backdrop”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced in 2017 that Social Security Scotland would be headquartered in Dundee, with a major site in Glasgow.
Holyrood is taking over responsibility for 11 benefits, including disability living allowance, personal independence payments and carers’ allowances.
image captionThe office block is yards away from the city’s V&A Museum

Social Security Scotland said the agency’s presence in Dundee could contribute £100m to the wider Scottish economy.

It said the new headquarters had space for 600 employees.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We were determined to base our headquarters in Dundee.

“The fact we’ve now secured our permanent site and been able to establish our permanent base here in the Waterfront, which is obviously a fantastic development in Dundee, shows our determination and our commitment to the city.”

The £15.5m office block was completed in May last year but attracted criticism that it overshadowed the neighbouring V&A design museum.

In September 2018, while the building was still under construction, Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde, who was in the city for a concert, said it was a “monstrosity” that should be torn down because it was a distraction from the “beautiful” museum.

‘Vote of confidence’

Dundee City Council leader John Alexander said the announcement was “a real vote of confidence in the city.”

He said: “It’s always preferable to have one singular tenant of the calibre of the Scottish government.”

Mr Alexander also defended the look of the development, saying the aesthetics of a building were “particular to each individual”,

He said: “I don’t think it’s a ‘hideous monstrosity.’

“We’ve also got to remember what this area, the city centre, looked like just five, ten years ago – it was a hideous monstrosity.

“If you think of the 60s architecture and the old Olympia (leisure centre) it has been an absolute transformation.”

Mr Alexander said it was “a reality” that spaces in the Waterfront needed to be “functional as well as attractive.”

He said: “I hope that as we continue to develop the other sites within the Waterfront, you’ll continue to see that architectural flavour come forward and a bit more creative design, I suppose, in some of the other developments.”

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