Closing County Hall is council’s ‘best option’

The controversial closure and sale of County Hall in Morpeth has moved a step closer.

Northumberland County Council, in conjunction with ARCH, has commissioned an appraisal of future headquarters options for the authority.

The Herald has seen some of the source material and the recommendation is to move up to 1,000 staff into a new town centre office building and house the remaining workers within existing council accommodation around the county (option four).

A site in Ashington has been earmarked as a potential location for the new building.

The other options being considered are a full re-location of all central and back office functions to another area, staying at County Hall, which would require refurbishment and modification, and moving about 1,000 staff to another building but keeping the rest at County Hall and selling off surplus land.

The report says: “Option four is expected to incur the lowest expenditure, while maximising the land receipt. This offers the lowest net cost to the council and will also make use of other surplus space within the estate.

“It is expected to provide the greatest synergy with the operational objective to deliver flexible, cost effective, efficient work space for future operations.”

The total cost for such a scheme is expected to be £37.5million and approximately £9.2million would be recouped from land sales.