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Northants seeks to sell County Hall despite uncertainties

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The fire sale at Northamptonshire CC continues as the troubled county seeks to sell its former headquarters despite doubts over whether it will be possible.

Since staff relocated to One Angel Square in May 2017, there are now limited functions being delivered from the County Hall site, where the council chamber, coroner’s courts and tourist information centre are based. If the sale of County Hall, due to be discussed at the 12 June cabinet meeting, goes ahead all of those services would have to be relocated.

But in an appendix to the cabinet report relating to the sale it warns: “It should be noted that the ability to sell the site in a foreseeable timeframe is uncertain and that specialist consultancy advice will need to be sought to optimise best value.”

Northamptonshire is seeking to increase the occupancy of its corporate headquarters One Angel Square which the county council sold to Canada Life Investments in a £64m leaseback deal over 35 years. Estimates suggest filling One Angel Square with other partners could generate around £500,000 income per year.

Michael Clarke (Con), Northamptonshire’s cabinet member for finance, said: “Our move from 12 expensive buildings in Northampton into One Angel Square last year is already proving cost-effective and enabling us to adopt more modern ways of working. The proposed accommodation strategy will allow us to make even better use of our new headquarters.

“The building was carefully designed to enable flexible ways of working and by reconfiguring the layout, we can maximise the space available to bring partner organisations into One Angel Square, achieving closer collaboration with partners and delivering additional income for the council.

“At the same time, we are looking to dispose of the County Hall site which was once our democratic hub and is now hugely under-utilised. The imminent transformation of local government in Northamptonshire offers us an opportunity to review the use of the site and look at alternative venues for full council meetings.”

If the sale of County Hall is agreed, it is proposed there will be a staged withdrawal from the site with the aim of all operations ceasing in line with the implementation of the new unitary authorities.

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