Plans for plush new reception at Northumberland's County Hall due for approval as part of multimillion-pound revamp of council HQ

The latest phase in the refurbishment of Northumberland County Council’s headquarters looks set to be approved next week.

Monday, 2nd March 2020, 3:53 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd March 2020, 3:53 pm

The application, for an overhaul of the front of County Hall in Morpeth, is recommended to get the go-ahead at next a meeting of the Castle Morpeth Local Area Council on March 9.

The proposal is for the refurbishment and extension of the existing reception, café and offices to provide enhanced public facilities, a meeting suite and leadership offices, as well as a range of works to the outside areas and car park.

The publicly accessible reception area would be expanded, with an archive area, exhibition space and seating for informal meetings.

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An image showing how the revamped reception area could look. Picture from Space Architects

The floor plans show a raft of meeting rooms behind the reception, while upstairs there would be a rearranged office area for the council’s political leadership and bosses.

Outside, a new layout for the car park would create additional spaces, with a new covered walkway built from the disabled spaces to the new County Hall entrance. The existing walled parking area and canopy would be removed.

The existing parking area for councillors will be relocated next to the members’ garden, enabling the flagpoles to be relocated.

This means a Memorial Square will be created with the existing war memorial moved to the centre of this area and the existing Viking statue relocated onto a new plinth. There would also be new paths, planting and seating.

The bid has not attracted any objections and is supported by Morpeth Town Council, but has to be decided by the committee as it is the local authority’s own application.

The county council’s cabinet agreed the first stage of the overall County Hall project – £2.7million to repair and upgrade the external fabric of the building – in February 2018.

In November that year, members agreed the next phase, totalling £4million, for the ongoing work to the back-of-house office areas used by staff on a day-to-day basis, as well as the front-of-house changes proposed in this application.

The latest council budget, approved last month, includes another £11.85million for works over the next three years.