To consider the attached report.
The Interim Strategic Director, S Jevans updated the Committee on the progress of the Accommodation Project which included four workstreams;
· Construction of a new building;
· Sale of land at the back of the Civic Offices;
· Refurbishment of the Civic Offices; and
· Recruitment of partners/tenants for the Civic Offices.
The Interim Strategic Director advised that the construction of a new building would form part of a development brief and Masterplan exercise for the North Weald Airfield site. It would incorporate the most appropriate uses, provide an indicative layout and analysis of the envisaged economic, employment and social implication and include a traffic impact assessment. In addition to this, options for new office space were also being explored by the Assets Team.
Regarding the sale of the land at the back of the Civic Offices, valuation work had been completed and the timetable for this now depended on the decanting and alternative options for EFDC accommodation. The next steps required would include modelling options and planning requirements.
The refurbishment of the Civic Offices had progressed following a positive meeting with Historic England. The designs would include a new café provision, the letting of the first floor, council chamber refurbishments and open planned office space.
Furthermore, work had commenced on selecting an independent commercial agent who would provide marketing advice for potential partners/tenants for the Civic Offices. This would be progressed once it was understood from Historic England and Bissett Adams to what extent, alterations could be made.
Councillor S Rackham enquired whether the Airfield usage would remain and whether the infrastructure had been considered. The Interim Strategic Director advised that the Airfield usage would remain and the infrastructure would be consider as part of the Masterplan, where a travel plan would be included.
Councillor J M Whitehouse asked whether the project manager for the refurbishment of the Civic Offices had been recruited internally and whether an updated valuation for the sale of the land to the rear of the Civic Offices was available. The Interim Strategic Manager advised that the project manager had been recruited externally and she would have to come back to him with the current valuation.
Councillor R Bassett enquired whether members would be able to view the proposed plans for the Civic Offices and future new offices. The Interim Strategic Manager advised that plans would be made available for members in the Members Room.
The Community and Partnerships Portfolio Holder advised that the Stronger Communities Select Committee had received a detailed presentation regarding North Weald Airfield at their first meeting, which may benefit this Committee.
The Customer Services Portfolio Holder asked about timescales. The Interim Strategic Manager advised that she envisaged the preliminarily work to be completed by December 2019.
The Committee were concerned that they were required to have an overall understanding across the Council’s service areas and scrutinise the performance, but they did not appear to be given all the information. The Interim Strategic Manager advised that the report was intended to give a brief update on where the Council was on the Accommodation Project and further information relevant to this project would be brought to future meetings.
The Committee noted the update on the Accommodation Project.