County’s historic archives - which date back hundreds of years - could be moved to Ely

Shire Hall, Cambridge.

Shire Hall, Cambridge. - Credit: Archant

Ely has been put forward as the new home for Cambridgeshire’s historic county archives.

Cambridgeshire County Council is proposing to purchase a building in the city and adapt it to store the hundreds of thousands of documents and images that make up the archive.

Though the council says it has identified a building it would like to buy, it said that due to ‘commercial sensitivities’ it could not disclose where in Ely was being considered.

The council has a legal responsibility to maintain the county’s records, which date as far back as the 13th century, and the authority has been on the look out for new premises for the records for the last 25 years.

They are currently stored at council headquarters in Shire Hall, Cambridge, but this was dubbed “wholly unsuitable” by the National Archives because of widespread mould and damp.

The council has explored the possibility of moving the archives to a new purpose-built facility but the costs were estimated at £12million

If the archives were to move to Ely, however, the council said it would cost only £4million over two years and allow for savings of up to £500,000 a year on current arrangements.

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Graham Hughes, the county council’s executive director for economy, transport and environment, said the move to Ely would allow the authourity to “replace leased accommodation at Cottenham and enable potential rationalisation of County Council office accommodation in Ely”.

He added: “Revenue savings from the release of property are estimated at more than £286,000, whilst savings through integrated, streamlined staffing and additional income are expected to be £223,000, totalling more than £500,000 per year.

“A feasibility study has confirmed that the building identified could be adapted. Should the proposal go ahead, the total project cost of £12million in the current county council business plan for this project would be revised down to a maximum of £4million spread over the next two financial years.”

The plan will be considered by councillors on the highways and community infrastructure committee on September 23.