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Is this the end for a Poole landmark?
WHATEVER you think about Barclays House - concrete monstrosity or iconic building - it is too big to be ignored.
And so is the effect its 2,500 workforce has on the economy of Poole town centre.
Barclays dropped the bolt from the blue that it is reviewing the future of the 30-year-old building to Poole and Bournemouth councils when it met them last week.
It says the nine-storey, three-tower building will not meet its future needs - while emphasising that it is committed to keeping jobs in the conurbation.
By early 2007 a decision is due on the outcome of its review by in-house property experts.
Options include modernising the building on the George roundabout or moving to a new building in another part of the conurbation.
"It is at a very preliminary stage," said a Barclays spokesman.
"As part of that process there will be meetings with Bournemouth and Poole in an ongoing process."
As a major employer with 2,500 staff, the impact on everything from sandwich shops to leagues at the sports centre would be considerable if those staff were no longer there.
"We get a large influx of people during the lunch times and it's noticeable when it's Barclays' lunch two-hour spread," said Steve Connolly, manager of the Dolphin Shopping Centre, which is just across the road.
"I don't think it's going to make or break the retailers but it's a regular, steady income that we would be sad to see go.
"We would hope they would stay in the town centre," he said.
He added: "It's iconic in its own way.
"It's part of the Poole skyline. You can see it for miles around and know exactly what it is.
"It's a building of its time, a bit like the Dolphin Centre exterior."
Cllr Ron Parker, cabinet portfolio holder for local economy at the Borough of Poole, said they were doing all they could to make sure that Barclays remained in Poole.
"We were a little surprised that a relocation to another site might be considered more economic than a refurbishment of the existing facility and will seek to work closely with Barclays to understand their needs," he said.
"Clearly the employees based at Barclays do have a positive impact on the vitality of the town centre and consequently, we will be doing all we can to ensure that Barclays remains in Poole, whether it be in the existing building or in a new facility," he said.
He said they would be disappointed if they moved very far, but there were a number of possible sites with office space available including the railway station redevelopment.
"We're keen to keep them and delighted there are no threats to jobs," he said.
The Barclays spokesman pointed out that there could in the end be no change.
"One of the options might be we modernise the building we currently have and there will be no impact on the town centre in that sense," he said.
Back in the late 1960s, Poole was the only town out of 16 selected by the board that fully met the requirements of the then Barclays Bank DCO (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas).
After a public inquiry, planning permission for the unusual nine-storey building was approved in August 1971.
Work soon began on the three octagonal towers, estimated to cost £5 million, and the building opened in January 1976.
"We will keep Poole council constantly updated," said the Barclays spokesman. "There will be a lot of meetings as we go through the process. We are committed to the area."