PLANS to move Bexley Council civic offices onto one site have been branded "short-sighted".

The council currently operates from four main sites in Bexleyheath, Sidcup, Welling and Slade Green.

It has now submitted a planning application to develop a single site at the former Woolwich Building Society headquarters in Watling Street, Bexleyheath, which would merge all council services.

Backing the plans, Bexleyheath town centre manager Ian Payne said: “I think it is a great idea. It is a building that has not been used for some time.”

The planning application, which is expected to be heard by the council’s planning committee in February or March, includes a rear extension to provide space for council meetings and alterations to make the entrance more accessible.

The building will provide a customer contact reception for all council services.

In April, the council agreed to swap buildings with Tesco, which hopes to turn the council’s current centre in Broadway, Bexleyheath into a supermarket.

The council said the move, anticipated for 2013, will be funded by the sale of other council offices and promises a reduction in running costs that will save £1m a year.

Belevedere resident Malcolm Knight, 68, said he thought the Woolwich building was “unsuitable” for the council but recognised Tesco would be better suited to the Broadway site which is nearer the town centre.

He said: “If the deal is truly self financing - and we don't know that - then the downside of the deal is that the Woolwich building is badly run down and it will never be as good as a purpose design which could have gone to Erith and, over the long term, the latter may have been cheaper.”

Mr Knight, who runs the blog Bexley is Bonkers, said council meetings revealed the Woolwich building only has a 40 year lifespan, compared to 60 for a new build.

He added: “The current decision might be seen as short-sighted.”

Cabinet member for finance and corporate services Councillor Colin Campbell said: "This is a major step towards Bexley's long-held desire to make much-needed savings on accommodation costs, helping to protect frontline services."

Go to and use the reference 11/01941-FULM, the council’s Wyncham House office in Sidcup or Central Library in Bexleyheath to see the plans.

In a separate application, Tesco last week applied for permission to build a supermarket, smaller shops, restaurants and community space at the Broadway site, which it said will create 270 jobs.

Tesco also hopes to seek planning permission for homes on land behind the Woolwich site early this year.