The multi-million pound central London headquarters of the Board of Deputies is being put up for sale.
The communal representative body said 6 Bloomsbury Square, which was once home to future prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, said its executive had taken the decision because the building was “not designed for modern working with too many small offices s spread across five floors and poor disabled access. As a grade 2 listed building it is expensive to maintain and improve”.
After 12 years at the historic location, it added in a brief statement: “A modern, forward-thinking organisation needs a modern building which is fit for purpose.” When asked if it currently had a preference to move to north London to be closer to the heart of the community, a spokesman said only that “all options” are being considered.
A statement added “widely on the requirements and best location” for a new base and is now in the process of appointing relocation consultants to advise on and help secure a new building. And while denying the decision was linked to ongoing talks with the Jewish Leadership Council over a possible closer union, the organisation didn’t rule the possibility of sharing premises in the future. A spokesman said: “Our main focus is on getting the right office to best support the work of the Board. If this means co-locating with any other organisation or organisation then we will certainly look at that.”
The spokesman acknowledged that the option of selling had been looked at for “some time” but flatly denied any suggestion that it has any acute financial troubles to make this necessary now. “We recorded a surplus in our last accounts,” they said.
A member of the Board, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “This decision will be criticised by some who feel the Board need to have an illustrious central London base at all costs. But these critics won’t be those who work in the building or the many others who realise that a move is long overdue.”
Joe Millis, deputy for Bromley Reform Synagogue, said: “The move away from Bloomsbury Square makes a lot of sense, both from a financial point of view and because of working conditions there. The Board could raise a lot of money from the sale of a building which is like a rabbit warren and is not conducive to modern working practices.
“An inflow of money might even negate the need for a merger with the JLC.”