WORK on a £2million scheme to create a new home for Richmondshire District Council has begun.

Contractors have moved on to the former Lower School site in Richmond – Leeds-based, ESH Build expect to have the new base ready by summer 2013.

Plans to create the new base have been in the pipeline for many years – but redeveloping the old school site will bring all services under one roof for the first time in the authority’s history.

Existing offices in Swale House, Frenchgate and Friars Wynd will close and the Community Office in Dundas Street will be transferred to the new building.

“We have been searching for a solution to the current poor office accommodation for the last ten years,” said Leader of the Council, Councillor John Blackie. “And this site provides the perfect answer – we have a building that allows us to bring all services under one roof making it much easier not just for officers and councillors to conduct their business but for our customers too.”

Locally based A1 Environmental Services are currently stripping out the building before the re-ft begins in the New Year.

The scheme also protects one of Richmond’s most iconic buildings, creating a Community House base for the voluntary sector and a venue for public meetings, banquets, and weddings in the magnificent mid-19th century school hall. This will be fully refurbished as a second phase of the project in 12 months time.