£20,000 extra put into budget to create ‘pleasant area’ for guests as Ely register office moves to Angel Drove

Strikes Bowling Alley, which will become the new Cambridgeshire Archives Centre in 2019.

Strikes Bowling Alley, which will become the new Cambridgeshire Archives Centre in 2019. - Credit: Archant

County councillors will lessen the shock of moving the city’s register office to the bleakness of a former bowling alley by committing £20,000 to create “a pleasant area” for wedding guests.

The register office – despite protests – is set to move from the centre of Ely to Angel Drove and the former Strikes Bowling Alley in the next two years.

It will be a tenant within the county council’s new archives centre that is being set up there.

Despite costs for the archive centre – relocating from Cambridge – rocketing, a council committee has heard that extra for the register office will keep guests happy.

Christine May, interim services director infrastructure management and operations, will urge councillors tomorrow (Fri) to authorise the extra £20,000.

She said the cash will provide “suitable landscaping as a result of the proposal to relocate the registration service to the archive building.

“This is primarily to provide a pleasant external area for registration guests”.

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The cost of building the new archives centre has had to be stripped back – although it is still hoped to open it in 2019.

The budget has recently gone over by £427,000, partly because of sub contract costs which have risen because of the spiralling work load for the building trade across the booming Cambridge economy.

However officers have worked to slash costs including other areas of landscaping and saving on the car park budget. The council also plans to scrap plans for the centre to have a dedicated nitrate negative store to hold the county council’s 250,000 flammable photographic negatives.

They will instead be housed at the National Conservation Service (NCS) in Oxfordshire at a cost of £500 a year, saving the council £66,005.

Making up part of the council’s hefty budget is £245,000 for six linear kilometres of shelving and £87,200 to refurbish the site’s current car park.

Moving the register office from Market Street to the new centre is expected to save the council £23,000 a year.

Councillor Matthew Shuter, chairman of the county council highways and community infrastructure committee, said: “The move of the registration office to the Cambridgeshire Archives Centre will offer the public a more accessible location.

“The centre will provide opportunities for the public to come and explore Cambridgeshire’s rich history, and create some of their own through registering their key milestones.”

The council’s current archives are based at Shire Hall. However, officers from the National Archives (TNA) recently deemed it to be unsuitable for the long-term preservation of records.