Wednesday 24 April 2024
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Council expected to sell part of County Hall in West Bridgford

Part of County Hall is now expected to be sold by Nottinghamshire County Council in plans to relocate some of the authority’s operations to its new £15.7m Top Wighay building.

The Conservative-led council has now finished a cross-party review of its West Bridgford headquarters and a senior cabinet member says the likely plan is to move out of at least part of it.

County Hall was purpose-built for the council on the banks of the River Trent in the 1930s.

The authority has forecast it would cost about £50m over 10 years to bring the building up to modern standards.

The review, which also includes assessments of the wider council estate, comes as the authority looks to save millions of pounds on its buildings.

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It has already saved £1m a year by cutting down from 17 to nine buildings and more savings are planned.

A decision on the future of County Hall is expected by March, but councillors on the overview committee will discuss the review on January 24.

Councillor Keith Girling (Con), the cabinet member for economic development and asset management, says moving out of County Hall makes sense for future planning.

He said: “We’re looking at all options but County Hall would make for an incredible building and a community area.

“If we’ve got luxury flats above and a good area below, with bars and restaurants looking out on the river, it would really lift this place and regenerate it.

“The long-term vision for the council is to provide top-quality services in a functional way.

“We are building Top Wighay and why wouldn’t we look at being in that new building? To me, it makes complete sense.

“It puts the council in the heart of Nottinghamshire rather than in the south, in the heart of where services are required and used most.”

He added that the Top Wighay site would “pay for itself” through any potential sale of County Hall and savings on its maintenance and repairs.

The move would depend on business cases being drawn up and a consultation being launched.

It follows the carbon-neutral Top Wighay building, on former greenbelt land near Hucknall and Linby, being given planning consent in July.

County Hall currently houses the council debating chamber as well as staff and councillors’ offices.

Cllr Girling says the Top Wighay site could be built in a way to accommodate these facilities but any replacement “wouldn’t be as grand” as County Hall.

If the authority does opt to move out of its West Bridgford home, it would continue to use its existing Trent Bridge House for some services in the town.

Other elements of the review include utilising planned new public sector ‘hub’ buildings across the county and potentially vacating other sites.

This includes Mansfield District Council plans for the old Beales building, in the town centre, and another new site planned in Ollerton.

The overview committee will discuss the review next week and Cllr Girling says he wants to make a decision on County Hall within two months.

He says this will give the council an idea of how Top Wighay will look and allow construction to begin.

However, Labour has raised some concerns about the impact of the plans.

Cllr Kate Foale, the Labour Group leader, said: “We now have a situation where Conservative county councillors are looking to sell off Nottinghamshire residents’ historic public buildings and local spaces.

“[This is] in order to bail out a Government which has plunged public services into crisis by trying to deliver on the cheap.”

The Independent Alliance previously described the relocation plans as the “worst-kept secret in Nottinghamshire”.

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