Site visit before council HQ decision
It's full steam ahead for the proposed relocation of Northumberland County Council's HQ from Morpeth to Ashington as councillors prepare to decide on the planning application.
More than £32million of capital funding for the project – whose costs over a 35-year period are stated to be £38.5million – was approved as part of the council’s budget and medium-term financial plan last week.
And at Tuesday’s meeting of the authority’s strategic planning committee, members agreed to go on a site visit ahead of making a decision on the scheme.
The application is for a five-storey, grade-A office building, associated infrastructure and the provision of up to 474 parking spaces at a site on Lintonville Road.
The application site is situated within the town centre of Ashington and forms part of the North East Quarter, which is a wider development scheme for the area.
The new headquarters is to be developed on a commercial basis by applicant Arch, ‘with an aspiration of a lease to Northumberland County Council’.
The new site would comprise office space for 910 work stations, a community drop-in centre; a double-height chamber and conference facilities; with meeting rooms, a café and central atrium space.
A committee report states: ‘The proposed design of the scheme comes from an ambition to develop a highly-efficient building which would perform well both as a piece of civic infrastructure and as a modern, flexible office environment that is attractive to future occupiers’.
Conservative group leader, Peter Jackson, has described the proposed new County Hall as ‘the largest vanity project of our lifetime’ but an amendment to remove it from the capital budget was defeated last week.