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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Council buildings review could mean new civic hub next to the River Trent

Staff could be moved from Trent Bridge House, which towers over the cricket ground, and into a yet-to-be-built “campus” building next to County Hall.

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A major review of council-owned buildings around Nottinghamshire has been approved, including a new iconic office building next to the River Trent.

The Home Brewery building, in Arnold, would be sold as part of the plans, which was “unfit for purpose”, the council said.

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The scheme, put forward by the Conservative-run Nottinghamshire County Council, also involves a new building at Top Wighay Farm, near Hucknall, to house the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) which looks into complex social care cases.

Staff could be moved from Trent Bridge House, which towers over the cricket ground, and into a yet-to-be-built “campus” building next to County Hall.

In a debate on the issue on March 20, Labour councillors said they supported the plan in principle, but there was not enough detail for them to support it.

Concerns were also raised the project could run over budget.

So far, £2.4 million has been set aside, but the building costs are not yet known because the designs have not yet been drawn up. There are also no exact time frames yet.

The council hopes the scheme could save money in two ways; ongoing repair costs to older buildings would not have to be paid and new funds would be raised through the sale of buildings, such as the Home Brewery building.

Councillor Kay Cutts, the leader of the council, said as well as saving money, the scheme would help improve services by ensuring council staff were working in more suitable surroundings.

“Our plans mean that we will vacate buildings we rent and move into fit-for-purpose buildings that we own, reducing our overheads and annual running costs by using the latest green technology,” she said.

“Building new office accommodation at Top Wighay Farm and County Hall means we can use our own land assets to unlock new opportunities for jobs, growth and regeneration as part of our commitment to invest in Nottinghamshire.”

Councillor Kate Foale, who Beeston Central and Rylands for Labour, said: “This is extremely ambitious, which is good, but I just wonder, because it’s a multi-agency hub, if any other agencies are going to contribute to the cost of it.

“Another concerns is where will the staff go, because already staff are saying ‘where will we go to?’

“Schemes like this never cost less than you think they’re going to, and I worry we may get a situation where you are coming back saying ‘we need a lot more money.’ A lot of this is high-risk, and there seems to be no plan B.”

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