Contractor for new council HQ announced

An artists impression of what the new Northumberland County Council headquarters in Ashington may look like.
An artists impression of what the new Northumberland County Council headquarters in Ashington may look like.

The construction firm for Northumberland County Council’s new headquarters has been chosen and it is set to start work on the site next month.

Arch, the authority’s development company, has awarded the contract to Galliford Try Building Limited. The new building will form part of the wider Portland Park development in the centre of Ashington.

The project will take about 18 months to complete. It is expected to employ up to 220 people in construction and at least 55 will be new job or apprenticeship opportunities.

County council leader Grant Davey said: “This is a welcome next step in our Market Towns Initiative to regenerate and improve Northumberland’s towns.

“We’re pleased the scheme has now appointed a team to start work and can now progress for the benefit of the town, the county and the wider region.”

The new council HQ will cost £32million to put up, the contract has confirmed.

The Labour administration says that the move to Ashington will save council tax payers around £16million over the next 25 years as the office scheme involves a smaller and more cost-effective building than the current headquarters in Morpeth.

And it will free up more staff to work in towns across the county.

But councillors who have opposed the scheme have said the quoted costs should also include the amounts to be spent on the new road infrastructure, utilities infrastructure and additional parking facilities.

They also believe that a refurbishment to create a smaller HQ in Morpeth would not be as expensive as the new build in Ashington.

There will be space for 910 work stations, conference facilities and publicly accessible meeting rooms at the new facility.

In addition, it will include a customer service centre by the main entrance and a cafe and rest room that can incorporate public access.

Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck, said: “This is going to be a landmark development for Ashington and it represents a serious long-term and major commitment, creating a superb new town centre environment and creating hundreds of jobs.

“I am excited to see the plans to revitalise Ashington continuing at pace.”