By RPS Treasurer and Chair of RPS Relocation Board, Sultan ‘Sid’ Dajani
The move to East Smithfield on the edge of the City of London is a solid investment for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) that puts the organisation on a firm financial footing and provides long-term stability for our future.
Relocation of the RPS HQ from Lambeth High Street was driven by an awareness that the building badly needed expensive renovation and was too large for us following our separation from the General Pharmaceutical Council in 2010. We were faced with the unenviable choice of either investing more than £3 million upgrading our vacant office space to bring it up to current rental standards or incurring an extra £500,000 a year cost as the sole building occupant. We also faced a required £1.5 million spend in essential building maintenance over the next ten years. None of this expenditure was sustainable.
Though we knew we needed to move, the move had to meet the requirements of our core publishing business as well as the needs of our members, and that meant keeping a London base. To continue to flourish as an organisation we must be able to attract excellent staff to work for RPS, to run both the professional body and our world renowned publishing division. Our members also want the RPS to be close to the UK Government to supplement our other key locations in Edinburgh and Cardiff. Pharmacists want us to be the voice of the profession, working collaboratively with stakeholders and influencing political decisions affecting the role of pharmacy in improving patient care. Purchasing the former P&O shipping building in East Smithfield and developing it to meet current requirements and secure RPS’s future has been a visionary move.
The sale of I Lambeth High Street and the purchase and refurbishment of our new premises has provided a net capital gain of more than £1 million, all of which will be reinvested in developing new services for our members. Now that we have downsized our premises to fit current needs of the organisation we can be true masters of our own destiny. We are reinvigorated as an organisation and looking forward with excitement to concentrating our energy on RPS’s key roles of professional leadership and meeting the evolving needs of our members.
The new building is considerably cheaper to run than 1 Lambeth High Street. It has been sympathetically and ethically modernised. It is technically equipped to meet the demands of the modern digital business age, providing live audio-visual communication links with our members and professional teams across England, Scotland and Wales. In addition it is environmentally friendly, with modern insulation and maximised use of natural daylight throughout the building. Solar roof panels mean we will be cutting power bills too through generating our own electricity.
The busy location is easy for visitors and members to get to, with several public transport stations within walking distance. And it is within striking distance of London’s iconic Tower of London at the gateway to the city’s historic East End. It is clear that this former docklands area is changing rapidly and we are integral to this re-development. Members should be assured that this investment in the future of the RPS will be hugely beneficial to all.”