Top Wighay relocation possible as council considers future of County Hall

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At least part of County Hall is now expected to be sold by Nottinghamshire Council amid plans to relocate some of the authority’s operations to its new £15.7 million Top Wighay building.

The Conservative-led council has now finished a cross-party review of its West Bridgford headquarters and a senior cabinet member says the likely plan is to move out of at least part of it.

County Hall was purpose-built for the council on the banks of the River Trent in the 1930s.

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The authority has forecast it would cost about £50m over 10 years to bring the building up to modern standards.

County Hall was built in the 1930s.County Hall was built in the 1930s.
County Hall was built in the 1930s.

The review, which also includes assessments of the wider council estate, comes as the authority looks to save millions of pounds on its buildings.

It has already saved £1m a year by cutting down from 17 to nine buildings and more savings are planned.

A decision on the future of County Hall is expected by March, but councillors on the overview committee will discuss the review on January 24.

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Coun Keith Girling, cabinet member for economic development and asset management, says moving out of County Hall makes sense for future planning.

He said: “We’re looking at all options, but County Hall would make for an incredible building and a community area.

“If we’ve got luxury flats above and a good area below, with bars and restaurants looking out on the river, it would really lift this place and regenerate it.

“The long-term vision for the council is to provide top-quality services in a functional way.

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“We are building Top Wighay and why wouldn’t we look at being in that? To me, it makes complete sense.

“It puts the council in the heart of Nottinghamshire, rather than in the south, in the heart of where services are required and used most.”

He said the Top Wighay site would “pay for itself” through any sale of County Hall and savings on its maintenance and repairs.

It follows the carbon-neutral Top Wighay building, on former greenbelt land near Hucknall and Linby, being given planning consent in July.

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County Hall currently houses the council debating chamber, as well as staff and councillors’ offices.

Coun Girling says the Top Wighay site could be built in a way to accommodate these, but any replacement “wouldn’t be as grand” as County Hall.

Other elements of the review include utilising planned new public sector ‘hub’ buildings across the county and potentially vacating other sites.

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The overview committee will discuss the review next week and Coun Girling says he wants to make a decision on County Hall within two months.

However, Labour has raised concerns about the plans.

Coun Kate Foale, Labour Group leader, said: “We now have a situation where Conservative county councillors are looking to sell off Nottinghamshire residents’ historic public buildings and local spaces.

“[This is] in order to bail out a Government which has plunged public services into crisis by trying to deliver on the cheap.”