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Council assessing former Beales department store ahead of proposed office move

Mansfield District Council is starting detailed investigations into the condition of the former Beales department store ahead of its plans to move there.

The council wants to leave Mansfield Civic Centre and instead operate in the former town centre store,  on the corner of Queen Street and Stockwell Gate, after converting it to a public sector ‘hub’.

The Labour-led council has submitted a £20m bid to the Government for Levelling Up Fund cash and is expected to find out whether the bid was successful in the coming months.

But now it has appointed a company to carry out assessments into the structure and cladding of the former department store while it is vacant to review what works will be needed.

This includes investigating vertical and horizontal cracks, corroding steel and out-of-line concrete panels in parts of the building.

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Parts of damaged concrete structures will also need sample testing for “soundness”, while the brick wall on the west of the building has been found “leaning with the parapet wall displaced”.

An approved decision last week handed a contract to engineering consultant Faithful & Gould, which submitted a quote of £19,250 plus VAT to carry out the investigation work.

The council has confirmed investigations do not include assessments to the pedestrian bridge connecting the building with the Four Seasons Shopping Centre.

In a report, Dawn Edwards, the council’s head of finance, outlined the scale of investigations needed to ensure the building is safe.

She said: “There is vertical and horizontal cracking to the external elevations and this is indicative of a corroding steel frame, reinforcement or differential movement between the brickwork and concrete panels.

“Further investigations are required in order to determine the nature and cause of damage and, if possible, will outline the remedial works necessary to restore condition or stability.

“Some of the concrete external panels are out of line and appear to have moved. Further investigations are required into the fixings to these panels to ascertain the cause of this movement.

“The damaged reinforced concrete structural elements will require examination and sample testing by a specialist.

“This will involve checking areas of spalling [cracking] concrete for soundness and assessing [the] condition of steel reinforcement and taking samples of concrete for chloride content and depth of carbonisation.

“The brick wall to the west elevation is leaning with the parapet wall displaced. This appears to be due to [the] expansion of the adjacent concrete slab to the flat roof.

“Investigations are required to confirm the cause of movement. Any necessary remedial works, restraint provision or rebuilding works will be advised.”

The contract with Faithful & Gould was approved during the decision on Friday, October 7 with the company now allowed to progress with the works.

If the Levelling Up Fund bid is approved by ministers, the public sector hub could see other local authorities, including Nottinghamshire County Council, taking up space in the town centre building.

The Department for Work and Pensions, West Nottinghamshire College, Nottingham Trent University, the NHS and the CVS voluntary organisation have also signalled interest.

The council says the move will bring services closer to residents.

Andy Abrahams, the district’s Labour mayor, previously said: “Consolidating public services in one town centre space makes so much sense, for both the delivery of those services to our community, and the wider economic benefits for the town centre.

“Mansfield really needs this kind of ambitious re-imagining of its shopping streets to a mixed-use town centre if it is to build a bright future and encourage inward investment.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform our town’s fortunes and prospects for the better.”

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