Costs rise for proposed council move to Ashington

Estimated building costs for a new council headquarters in Ashington have risen by almost £10million.

A new economic report suggests that Ashington would benefit from an extra £1.8million in spending if Northumberland County Council moved its headquarters to the town from Morpeth.

These proposals form a key component of our vision for Northumberland.

Grant Davey, Northumberland County Council Leader

It states that in turn Morpeth would benefit from the re-development of the authority’s existing Loansdean site, with the potential for new schools, leisure and community facilities there.

However, it is now proposed that a bigger new HQ should be built in Ashington, costing an extra £3.5million on top of the original £19million estimate.

In addition, a budget of £5.05million would be allocated for the internal fit-out, with a further £1.08million set aside for car parking provision.

The report states that over 25 years the operational and maintenance cost of staying in the present headquarters would amount to £37.13million, while a new energy efficient building would cost £22.71million.

Council Leader Grant Davey said: “A new headquarters in Ashington, the re-development of council land and facilities in Morpeth, and the wider property programme that we are proposing are key pillars of the council’s new economic strategy.

“These proposals form a key component of our vision for Northumberland, which will become a reality if council agrees to the proposals.

“Both projects form part of an integrated suite of investment being led or supported by the council and which will transform our town centres, attract new jobs, and accelerate the development of new infrastructure and quality housing.”

It was initially envisaged that a new council base would provide 775 flexible workstations for around 1,000 County Hall staff.

Now it is proposed that 1,000 desks are included to bring some 300 council staff currently working in seven different offices in Ashington into the facility, enabling those buildings to be sold or re-developed.

The report will be considered by the council’s Economic Growth and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee on June 3, the Cabinet on June 9, and a final decision will be taken by the full council on July 1.

If agreed, the building will be procured by Arch, the Northumberland Development Company, under an agreement with the council, with an emphasis on added value and business growth.