When news happens, text ROMS and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Winchester councillors considering building new HQ
WINCHESTER civic chiefs are considering knocking down their offices and building a new HQ, the Hampshire Chronicle can reveal.
City council leader Keith Wood is due to make an official announcement on what could be a multi-million pound scheme at the next Cabinet meeting on October 23.
The council has refused to confirm the details but it is understood proposals include demolishing the 1960s block on Colebrook Street and extending Grade II listed Winchester Guildhall.
According to council sources, Guildhall Yard, a private car park for council staff, has been earmarked as a possible site for the new building.
A new entrance to the offices would be on The Broadway while the current site and council-owned Colebrook Street car park could eventually be sold for housing.
The latest proposals come 10 years after the idea of a new council HQ was first proposed. Since then several different schemes have been suggested.
Originally, the council-owned car park in Middle Brook Street was a front runner before it was ditched in favour of Colebrook Street in 2006.
In a statement, Cllr Wood said: “The city offices are now over 40-years-old. They were built by Conder as a prefabricated building and are well past the end of their planned life.
“Building surveys show they need a significant amount spent on them to repair the roof, windows and much of the structure of the building. Whether that is a viable option is under consideration.”
He went on: “We are reviewing the council’s accommodation needs and will use this information to decide the way ahead. However nothing has been decided about how we will resolve this and, until we do, there is little we can say about what will happen to the site in future.”
Cllr Wood added Colebrook Street car park will be needed when building work on the Silver Hill redevelopment starts and Friarsgate car park demolished.
It is not yet known when work will start on Silver Hill, the £130m revamp of the area between The Broadway and Friarsgate.
In recent years, the council has consolidated its offices, vacating offices in Friarsgate, Hyde, Abbey Mill and Chesil Street.
Most council staff and services are now based either at The Guildhall or Colebrook Street offices.
The council has 461 full-time equivalent employees and is responsible for services including planning, housing, environmental health, refuse collection, parking, tourism, museums, licensing, sports and recreation.
Leading Winchester architect Robert Adam, director of Adam Architecture, said redeveloping the council offices were “long overdue.” He called for any new building to be traditional rather than contemporary “to fit in with the grain of the city.”
Conservative Cllr Fiona Mather, who represents Eastgate division on the county and city councils, said: “I am not happy about the idea of building on Colebrook Street car park and I don’t think the residents of Colebrook Street will be very happy either.
“The Cathedral, the Guildhall and city restaurants all need evening parking. It is such a useful car park for all sorts of people as not everyone likes using multi-storey car parks and it earns a lot of money for the city council at the moment.”
Cllr Mather said she didn’t have any firm views on the design of new council offices.
She said: “I suspect it is an opportunity to create something that is more contemporary. I am not afraid of that. It is a very sensitive location between the Guildhall and the Cathedral.”
Liberal Democrat Cllr Martin Tod, who also sits on both the city and county council, said: “We need to make cost savings, but the Conservatives need to focus. If they’re making a mess of the planning for River Park, how are they going to do a good job of planning new offices at the Guildhall?”
Comments are closed on this article.