New £12.5 million council HQ planned in Shrewsbury's Pride Hill centre

Councillors will be asked to support proposals for a new £12.5 million headquarters in Shrewsbury's Pride Hill centre next week.

A new Shropshire Council HQ in the Pride Hill Centre in Shrewsbury would cost £12.5 million, the council says
A new Shropshire Council HQ in the Pride Hill Centre in Shrewsbury would cost £12.5 million, the council says

The new civic centre would house Shropshire Council and some of its public sector partners from autumn 2023, once the council has vacated and sold its current Shirehall headquarters.

According to the council, it would be paid for using the proceeds of the sale of Shirehall and with a £5 million grant from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.

The new site would include office space, meeting rooms and hospitality areas that can be occupied and rented to partners and other parties to generate additional income for the council.

If councillors agree to the recommendations, a further report – asking for a final decision - will then be presented to a future meeting of full council, along with a recommended option for the disposal of Shirehall.

The new civic centre would be around four-fifths smaller than Shirehall in terms of floor space.

The council says it would also provide a major boost to Shrewsbury’s town centre’s regeneration and generate income for the council from partners who would also have office space in the centre.

A travel plan would be developed to ensure that staff, councillors and visitors can access the venue using a range of options.

Move

In July 2020 the council agreed to stop plans to refurbish Shirehall, which would have cost £24 million, and instead to seek to move to a Shrewsbury town centre location.

The Pride Hill Centre has emerged as the preferred location following an independent review of five town centre sites.

The annual running costs associated with Shirehall was £1.3m 2019/20. It is estimated that around £5million needs to be spent on the building to make it health and safety compliant for the longer term.

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for assets, economic growth and regeneration, said: “These are very exciting plans and this is a very important milestone for the council, for the future of Shrewsbury town centre, and for the county.

“Recent studies as part of the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan work recognise that the relocation of Shropshire Council’s HQ to the town centre will have a significant and positive impact on the local economy, increasing the vitality and vibrancy of the town.

“More importantly this can provide a huge boost for the regeneration of Shrewsbury town centre, bringing a major employer right into the heart of the town centre

“A new civic centre included in the wider development plans for the town centre and used by the council and partners would generate additional footfall and business for Shrewsbury town centre, helping to boost the economy of Shrewsbury and Shropshire.”

Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, said: “Our staff are our most important asset, and we’ve shown over the last nine months that the need to occupy a large headquarters building has significantly reduced as staff - and councillors - work in a more flexible and agile way using digital tools and systems.

“Staff continue to work away from their office work base in line with government guidance. This has provided opportunity for the council to rethink the way it works, based on greater use of technology during the pandemic, and hence our future accommodation needs.

“As well as smaller-scale HQ in Shrewsbury we’re looking at the more flexible use of assets across the county to enable staff to work in, and closer to, local communities. A number of buildings and venues have been identified around the county for staff, councillors and partners to use.”

If councillors agree to the report’s recommendations. officers will provide a further decision report for full Council to approve the capital expenditure required to tender for and undertake the work necessary to accommodate the council’s new civic base in the Pride Hill Centre.

This report will also confirm a recommended disposal plan for the Shirehall site, which will consider the decommissioning and demolition of the Shirehall and associated buildings, relocation of the ICT and telecommunications infrastructure, access and parking associated with the recreational facilities and the adjacent courts and access to and from the site from the adjoining roads.

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