Council offices in Romsey are to become a new “community hub”.
Romsey Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Test Valley Community Services (TVCS) are to move into the Former Magistrates’ Court (FMC) in Church Street alongside Test Valley Borough Council’s customer service facilities and Hampshire County Council.
The building, which has been home to a scaled-down TVBC presence since the closure and sale of its Dutton’s Road office, will undergo alterations costing £460,000 to accommodate its new occupants.
Works will include an enlargement of the customer waiting area, improvements to reception facilities, better access for the disabled and those with pushchairs and the creation of a dedicated area for viewing plans.
A separate CAB reception point and waiting area, along with additional private interview rooms will also be made.
As part of the agreed improvements a flagpole will be erected at the front of the building.
Ian Carr, leader of the council, said: “It was my pledge, at the outset of the move from Duttons Road, to keep council services local in Romsey.
“I am delighted that we have reached agreement with Romsey Citizens Advice Bureau and Test Valley Community Services to create a one stop community hub, consolidating public services under one roof in the heart of the town.”
Lib Dem leader, Peter Hurst, a Romsey councillor, who opposed the sale of Duttons Road offices, said it made sense to move the CAB and TVCS to the Former Magistrates Court was dubious about the cost of the alterations to the building.
“Whether the price quoted represents value for money remains to be seen,” he told the Advertiser. “I note that £83K of the £463K is identified as professional/contractor fees! Whatever the level of investment in the FMC, it will not compensate for the significant loss of employment in Romsey represented by the closure of Duttons Road.”
A TVBC spokesman said the work was estimated to take 14 weeks, during which time the offices would remain open. However, a start date for the project has yet to be agreed with the contractors.