30 September 2014

Exciting plans to transform County Hall in Northampton into a focal point of the emerging Cultural Quarter are to be discussed by councillors next week as part of the project to move the council out of the historic building.

Project Angel would see Northamptonshire County Council staff move out of 12 buildings in Northampton, including County Hall, into one purpose-built headquarters in the town centre.

What will happen to County Hall in the future?

Now final plans have been unveiled which show how, through a proposed deal with Northampton Borough Council who are working with potential partners, large parts of the grade one listed building could be used in the future to expand Northampton’s Museum to help enhance the growing offer of the town’s Cultural Quarter.

Leader of the council Cllr Jim Harker said: "I am delighted to have been able to work with Northampton Borough Council and potential partners to get the very best deal for us all and most importantly for the people of Northamptonshire.

"The County Hall site is such an important one in Northampton town centre and carries with it such history that I am delighted that its use at the centre of the town and county life will be continued."

The cabinet paper details how, following independent valuation of County Hall’s Old Gaol Block, Guildhall Road Block and 6 Angel Street buildings, all three would be sold direct to Northampton Borough Council for £2.175m.

The report states there is a proposal for the borough council to let the Guildhall Road block to the University of Northampton for their Art, Design and Fashion Studios, in line with their ambitions to be further integrated into the town and its Cultural Quarter, while 6 Angel Street will be used as part of the Vulcan Works refurbishment work.

What will happen to County Hall staff?

In the time period immediately following the purchase of the buildings and prior to the completion of the new council headquarters, the borough would lease the buildings back to the county council at a peppercorn rent until staff are ready to move out and the borough and university are ready to upgrade the property.

Cabinet member for finance Bill Parker said: "Selling these parts of County Hall direct to the borough council represents good value for our taxpayers and also ensures these historic buildings remain at the heart of the life of the county.

"By selling these parts of the building in one lot means we have avoided all the costs of going to the market with them and the inherent risks that brings, while at the same time ensures we are able to contribute to the town’s Cultural Quarter."

It is proposed that the remaining parts of County Hall will be maintained by Northamptonshire County Council for its democratic function – namely the council’s chamber - and a small number of staff.