Sunday 23 June 2024
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New £15.7million Nottinghamshire County Council building approved

Nottinghamshire County Council has voted to approve its amended Investing in Nottinghamshire programme and push ahead with a new £15.7 million office building.

The authority’s economic development and asset management (EDAM) committee approved the document on Tuesday, November 2, following a review of the initial £27.74 million plan.

Its review has reduced costs to slightly less than £21 million, with some key investments scrapped, and the sum will be borrowed from the Government’s public works loan board.

The total costings when factoring in interest are expected to be reviewed at a future finance committee, the meeting was told.

Amendments include no longer improving Meadow House, in Mansfield, in favour of supporting the district council’s plan to create a public service ‘hub’.

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The county council will also look at the possibility of relocating – but not closing – libraries and co-locating services alongside other local authority buildings.

The bulk of the investment will come from the £15.7 million Top Wighay office building, on the Hucknall-Linby border, which has been hailed as setting a “benchmark” in reaching the council’s carbon-neutral targets.

An impression of the Top Wighay building 4

When coupled with the 805 new homes, primary school and other community facilities on the wider Top Wighay Farm development, the council estimates more than 1,000 jobs will be created.

The office building was initially forecast to cost £14.7 million but rose due to increased construction costs, the council confirmed last week.

An impression of the Top Wighay building 2

But Cllr Dave Shaw (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall West, has been critical of the plan for a number of months.

In the meeting, he said: “I’ve always said this review has been farcical, and while the total amount you’re planning to borrow has gone down, the posh new offices at Top Wighay has gone up by £1 million.

“There is no mention in the report of the impact on Hucknall, the fundamental stress it’s going to cause to residents, the impact on the highways.

“[This is] all for buildings, I believe, we don’t need. I fundamentally think this is wrong.”

However, other councillors spoke in favour of the revised plans, which also include investing in council facilities in both Beeston and Retford.

The wider project is estimated to provide the council with annual revenue savings of £1.34 million, while the co-location of services would allow other council-owned assets to be sold or redeveloped.

Several new buildings will be used to accommodate staff who continued to work in an office environment throughout the pandemic, and who would do so despite the new hybrid working model.

These include social care and mental health services, with Cllr Keith Girling (Con), chairman of the committee, saying the council needs “fit-for-purpose” buildings to provide these services.

He said: “Often when somebody comes to see our offices and get into our services, it’s the first contact they’ve had with the county council.

“If that building is run-down, rickety and not fit-for-purpose, it’s not really a comforting start for their journey.”

He added: “This will now open up some of the buildings we won’t be using, and we will be able to decide [what to do with them].

“It’s giving us a great option to make sure our estate is working for us as a county council, and it’s going to bring in much-wanted revenue.”

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