Council to name new £18m HQ 'New Shire Hall'
- Credit: CCC
The ruling Conservative group at Cambridgeshire County Council has agreed a name for their new £18m headquarters at Alconbury Weald.
It will be called New Shire Hall despite “a long list of names” being considered.
Options were provided “to the chair of the (commercial and investment) committee and following discussions within the governing group it is proposed that the building is named ‘New Shire Hall’,” says the council.
Lib Dem opposition councillor Lorna Dupre had her own opinion of the name.
She tweeted that “so after years of being told that the council’s new Alconbury building isn't a replacement for Shire Hall but 'a hub in a new hub and spoke model of council premises', we learn that they're going to call the new Alconbury building ... New Shire Hall”.
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The committee will be told that a 7-week projected delay because of Covid-19 lengthened to 12 weeks and it will open in late summer/autumn.
A review of the design and specification of the building has been completed in light of potential enhancement measures to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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The council has modified some of the works including increasing the volume of fresh air intake into the building and a review of ‘touch points’ which was already lower than many other council office buildings.
The gas supply has been removed and replaced with an air source heat pump located within the car park.
"Additional ducting and external power requirements have been included to future proof the building, including for the Solar Array project,” says the report.
Main contractor R G Carter is said to have been able to maintain the build “in line with pre-Covid targets and no further time has been lost; this has been a great effort over the last six months, particularly given the continued social distancing requirements.
“The building is now watertight and the construction team are optimistic that no further time will be lost.”
Councillors will hear that changes to working practices brought about by the pandemic are being considered.
“Behaviour has changed for staff which provides the opportunity to move towards better working arrangements,” says the report.
“Working at home has become an effective and productive way to carry out many, but not all, activities.”
The council says it needs to find the right balance between staff needing to come together alongside the productivity of working from home.
"Whilst the home environment has many benefits, it does not promote or provide for physical team collaboration and support,” the report says.
“As workplaces start to reopen and people partially return, providing that human connection and fostering collaboration is more important now than ever.”
One change will be the number of teams based in New Shire Hall which will now work on an average 3:10 desk ratio, a slight change from the previous 5:10 ratio.
"This will see a reduction of approximately 100 desks from the originally planned 350 desks at Alconbury Weald,” says the report.
The overall approved project budget of £18.337m remains unchanged. Covid-19 delay costs are allocated to a separate approved budget of £400k, of which £193,000 has so far been spent.
However, the 12-week delay will mean there will be a short period of time between the latest date staff are able to use the Shire Hall site at Cambridge before clearance work can begin, and when the civic hub is ready.
The report says: “The Shire Hall building remains vacant at this time with all staff working remotely.
“Some of the staff at Shire Hall in Cambridge have already begun moving to existing offices closer to the communities they serve.
“Approximately 600 staff will have their office base at Alconbury Weald and are due to move from Shire Hall and other council offices.”
The council says the new civic hub is working to achieve as much renewable energy as possible and this will include 22 electric charging points in the car park.
Solar PVs’ will be on the roof and overall, the on-site renewable energy generation is expected to meet up to 40 per cent of the building’s expected energy use.