Johnston Press is planning to sell the Leeds headquarters of the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post and move journalists to another base in the city, it has been revealed.
Although no official announcement has yet been made, HTFP has learned that the company wants to move from its current city centre base on Wellington Street because it no longer needs such a large site.
The present building, which was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1970, once housed more than 1,300 people but there are now less than 400 there and the printing presses, which were closed in March, are being dismantled.
The company, which merged the editorial operations of the two daily titles under a single editor earlier this year with the loss of 19 jobs, is thought to be looking at five potential alternative locations.
They include Whitehall Road, which is near its current base, Arlington Business Park, White Rose retail centre, Stourton and Gledhow Road.
Johnston Press moved printing of the two Leeds-based titles to its sites at Dinnington and Sunderland in March, after more than 250 years of them being printed in the city.
One staff member told HTFP: “They are looking for a new home and there has been a decision in principle to sell the place if they can find a buyer. We don’t know when it’s going to happen. It could take months or a year, we don’t know.
“They have been thinking about doing it for ages but the state of the land market has discouraged them. Now they are trying to claw in as many millions as they can so they are going ahead with it.
“When offices were in the city and town centres, you were part of the community but on these industrial estates, there’s no heart – you are removing yourself from the community.
“You can’t argue with the logic of getting rid of the building but moving to industrial estates would be a mistake.”
Johnston Press has not so far responded to requests for a comment on the plans.
Last month, chief executive Ashley Highfield made clear the company’s intention to sell off offices which it no longer needed, in order to release funds to ensure its remaining offices are “fit for purpose.”
He said in an e-mail to staff: “Many of you raised concerns about your working environment in the staff survey and the Charter is intended to address these by reshaping our property portfolio and raising cash while retaining a more appropriate and manageable office network that can be better maintained and will be fit for purpose as we move forward.”
In a statement issued to HTFP at the time, the company said it was reviewing the number of offices it has and intends to sell off those it no longer needs.