New council HQ is part of economic vision for Northumberland

County Hall, Morpeth.
County Hall, Morpeth.

Northumberland County Council now intends to spend more than £28million building and fitting out a new headquarters in Ashington, although this is balanced against 25-year costs in the current building of £37million.

A detailed business case has found that developing a new corporate HQ at Ashington could generate up to £1.8million new spending in the town, while the potential release of the existing site in Morpeth has prompted feasibility work which could see new schools along with leisure and community facilities for the town.

The new office building on a site in Ashington town centre would provide 775 flexible workstations for teams based at the headquarters, compared to the 1,350 desks currently in the County Hall buildings in Morpeth. New ways of working means that 775 workstations could provide a base for more than 1,000 staff.

In addition, it’s now proposed to bring together nearly all the other council staff based in Ashington, which number around 300. This means a larger building accommodating around 1,000 work stations would provide additional running-cost savings for the council by freeing up seven other properties in the town for disposal or redevelopment. Making the building larger will cost around £3.5million more, making a total build cost of £22million. A budget of £5.05million is also proposed for approval for the internal fit out of the building, along with £1.08million for car-parking provision.

The report highlights the long-term savings for the council of a new building over the existing County Hall. Over 25 years, the operational and planned maintenance cost of remaining in the current building would be £37.13million, compared to the costs of a new energy efficient building of £22.71million – revenue savings of £0.58million per year.

The new headquarters and the possibility of a new education, leisure and community hub for Morpeth will also underpin the county council’s economic strategy, if the recommendations in a new council report are agreed.

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.

“We are taking the same approach to integrating investment in other parts of the county and this report and the economic strategy also link closely with our announcement that almost £76million has been invested in communities across the county as part of our work through Arch – the Northumberland Development Company.”

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.