Shropshire Council to discuss selling off Shirehall next week
Shropshire Council will discuss selling off Shirehall and plans for a new civic centre in Shrewsbury town centre next week.
At next Thursday's meeting councillors will be asked to agree that plans to refurbish the council’s Shirehall headquarters for £24.1 million are stopped, and that detailed work is instead carried out into options for a new, smaller civic centre in the town. The council would still use the Shirehall building until 2023.
The plan has been sparked following the Covid-19 lockdown, with more than 95 per cent of staff working from home and more than 90 per cent indicating a willingness to continue doing so in the future. It would also provide the opportunity for the council to significantly reduce building-related costs, and carbon emissions.
The council believes a new civic centre would also demonstrate to potential investors and local businesses that the council is creating additional footfall in the town centre and supporting growth in the county’s economy.
Essential repairs and maintenance works will need to be carried out at Shirehall to enable the council to continue to use the building until 2023.
Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, said: “As a result of Covid-19 there has been a fundamental change in the way that staff have been working with most working at home or away from the office. This has enabled us to rethink our accommodation requirements and to question the need for a large amount of office space for staff in Shrewsbury.
“The business model which underpinned the proposals for a full refurbishment of Shirehall has changed following the outbreak of coronavirus. Staff have had to work from home or away from the office and this has provided the opportunity for us to rethink our future accommodation needs.”
Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for assets, economic growth and regeneration, added: “By investing in further technology, training and support for staff and customers, there is huge potential to reduce our reliance on office space, giving us the opportunity to share buildings with partners to improve service delivery as well as make financial savings.
“A new civic centre included in the wider development plans for the town centre could be used by the council and partners who seek similar benefits in terms of location, cost, carbon efficiency and more modern working environments.
"This in turn generates additional footfall and business for Shrewsbury town centre, helping to boost the economy of Shrewsbury and Shropshire.”
In December 2018 full council agreed that the refurbishment of the entire Shirehall building be approved in principle, subject to a final business case, developed designs and final project budget.
In spring 2019, officers undertook further option appraisal work for a civic centre location in Shrewsbury as part of the development of the Big Town Plan. Work on the Shirehall project was paused in autumn 2019.
The council has said Shirehall generates more carbon emissions than any other Shropshire Council-owned building and generates around 1,044 tons of carbon per year.
The Shirehall complex occupies more than 20,500 sq m. In the financial year 2019/20 running costs associated with the Shirehall building were £1.3m, including £353,000 per year for gas and electricity.