Councillors at Nottinghamshire County Council are set to consider ambitious plans to deliver a “network of modern, fit for purpose County Council office buildings” to provide local services which boost the county’s economic prospects at next week’s Policy Committee meeting (20 March).
The report, Investing in Nottinghamshire, outlines how the County Council intends to use its £1 billion office and land estate to drive economic growth and regeneration across the county, improve accessibility and transform service provision for local people.
County Councillors will be asked to support plans to develop a new office building on existing County Council owned land at Top Wighay Farm, near Hucknall, to encourage additional private sector development including new housing and a new business park on the site.
The new office would become a single base for the County Council’s Customer Service Centre, Adult Access Team and Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) for children’s and adult social care cases which are currently based at the Annesley Business Park in rented office accommodation. Police and Health partners who work alongside the County Council in these services, will also be based in the same building – improving access to frontline services for local residents and greater efficiency by shared processes and systems.
The report sets out proposals for an “iconic” new building to be constructed on the County Hall campus in West Bridgford to accommodate the Council and its arms-length companies. Consideration will also be given to providing conference facilities to develop a modern, flexible, multi-use venue for use by the Council and others. This will allow the Council to vacate Trent Bridge House to further reduce costs and realign its office estate.
The report also identifies options to vacate other costly leasehold office buildings and to sell older buildings which require major repairs and are expensive to run.
The County Council proposes to exit and dispose of Sir John Robinson House in Arnold which requires significant ongoing maintenance to operate as office accommodation but has attracted potential interest for conversion to residential use. Local service provision for the Gedling District and areas surrounding the north of the City of Nottingham will be retained.
Three further offices at Retford (Chancery Lane), Ollerton (Bevercotes House, Sherwood Energy Village) and Beeston (Prospect House) would also be vacated to help to reduce the running costs of the County Council’s offices. Appropriate local service provision will be retained; using existing Council buildings where possible.
The programme of work set out within the report includes other ways in which the Council is modernising how it works. This includes employees working more flexibly and reducing travel and down time.
Councillor Kay Cutts MBE, Leader of the County Council said: “We’re ambitious for Nottinghamshire and we intend to use our assets to regenerate the local economy by opening up land we already own to new and exciting development opportunities.
“Our approach will make sure we spend taxpayers’ money wisely on the services people expect delivered from modern, efficient buildings local to where people live.
“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.
“Building new office accommodation at Top Wighay Farm and at County Hall means that 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.”
Subject to approval by County Councillors, further work will be undertaken by the Arc Partnership, a joint venture company between the County Council and Scape Group based in Nottingham, to evaluate the options agreed by Members.