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Friday, 23 October 2020

County council to spend £28 million upgrading its offices

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Nottinghamshire County Council is poised to approve a plan to spend £28 million upgrading buildings it owns and building new ones.

Under the plans, a new building will go up next to County Hall with office space, and room will be made for the Nottinghamshire Archive, which is currently in Castle Meadow Road in the city.

Staff currently at Trent Bridge House – the tall office block immediately next to the cricket ground – will be moved to the new County Hall building, and the empty block will be rented out.

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A new flagship building will be built as part of Top Wighay Farm, the large development on the outskirts of Hucknall.

This is the most expensive part of the project, at £14.7 million, and the council says it will set a ‘new benchmark’ in environmental sustainability.

Exact details of how the buildings will look have not yet been drawn up, with the plans at an early stage, but the scheme is expected to be approved in principle at a meeting next week (Wednesday, February 12).

There are also no exact timeframes yet for when the buildings will be finished, though the council describes it as a ‘five-year’ plan.

It had been proposed to vacate and sell the Home Brewery building – also known as Sir John Robertson House – in Arnold.

However this plan has now been shelved, and other public sector bodies will take up empty office space there instead alongside county council workers.

A number of other moves are also planned by Nottinghamshire County Council.

A council report on the subject describes the plans as an “ambitious and complex programme of work, which is estimated to take five years to deliver.

“The programme requires significant funding in order to deliver the stated outcomes.”

It comes at a time when funding from the Government has reduced significantly, and consecutive council tax rises have been proposed to avoid further reductions in services.

Last year, the council reduced the amount of disability benefits which the most vulnerable people in the county were allowed to keep.

This year, proposals have been made to close three children’s centres in Mansfield, Ashfield and Broxtowe. Speech and language therapy for children is also set to be cut later this year.

But the council says the new plans to spend £28 million will help save money, and generate new money in the long term.

The council says around £1 million will be saved in running costs at its current buildings.

Several full-time staff – including a solicitor – are to be brought in to the council at a cost of £799,000 to work on the project.

Several other locations are also planned to change across the county.

In Newark, most services are based at Sherwood Energy Village, a 15-mile drive from the town centre, so the council plans to move into Castle House – the headquarters of Newark and Sherwood District Council.

Meadow House, in Mansfield, will receive a full upgrade to the tune of £3 million.

The council’s current base at Chancery Lane, Retford, will be vacated and a new purpose-built office on the current site of the former Bassetlaw Learning Centre in Worksop will be built, at a cost of £2.75 million.

Councillor Kay Cutts is the leader of the council, and represents Radcliffe on Trent for the Conservatives.

She said: “We are investing in Nottinghamshire. These plans will benefit communities across the county and bring opportunities for growth and improved services in the long term.

“These plans will save money and improve the quality of services and are essential to bringing services closer to the residents who need them the most, wherever they live in our county.

“We have brought all our council building plans together to look at this issue as a five-year masterplan as we want to create more energy-efficient, modern council offices.

“We are an ambitious, forward-thinking council and we owe it to the taxpayers of Nottinghamshire to make this investment.”

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