4:27pm Friday 11th October 2013
By Ashley Barnard
A DISTRICT council has finally been handed the keys to its new premises in time to move in next month.
The final stages of a 10 month, £2million scheme to create a new base for Richmondshire District Council are being completed, meaning all council services will be available under one roof for the first time.
Contractor Esh Build has handed over the keys to the building after transforming the former Richmond Lower School building, close to former headquarters Swale House in Frenchgate in the town.
The fit out of newly-named Mercury House in Station Road has now begun – furniture is being moved in and the IT connections put in place – and it is hoped the new offices will open to the public next month.
The project will see the district council in one building for the first time in its history – replacing the current buildings at Friars Wynd, Swale House, Frenchgate House and the Dundas Street community office.
Plans to create a new HQ had been in the pipeline for 30 years and the redundant school was sold to the district council for £400,000 last year.
“Speaking as a leader that bears the scars of several intense skirmishes in years past on the issue of a single headquarters for Richmondshire District Council, I could not wait to get my hands on the keys, and open up the beautifully refurbished former Lower School building to a world of new opportunity,” said Councillor John Blackie.
He added: “There are so many winners out of our £2million investment, with a much better service to our residents and businesses, housed under one roof at a saving of £1,000 a week less than the current arrangements, and state of the art offices for our staff who have working cheerfully and without complaint for years in buildings that were near to being condemned at the very top of the list.”
The soon-to-be vacant offices around the town are already on the market and offices in Friars Wynd have been sold to a local building firm that plans to convert them into flats.
Swale House is on the market for £800,000 and Frenchgate House is also for sale with potential to provide office space or for conversion.
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