More than £20m of taxpayers’ money will need to be spent to repair the headquarters of Norfolk County Council so it can remain in use, it has emerged.

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And it has also been revealed that a study into the long term future of County Hall also investigated whether it made more sense to move the county council to a new base elsewhere - although such a move has been ruled out as too costly.

The £22m structural maintenance bill for County Hall for the next 25 years, which officers say is vital to remain operational in the future, has been calculated after a study into the state of the building in Martineau Lane, Norwich.

The report highlighted a desperate need for repairs to the concrete structural frame of the building, installation of wall and ceiling insulation, removal of asbestos, refurbishment of toilet blocks, improved lighting and fire alarms and conversion of floors to open plan working.

Since last year, the entrances of the offices, which opened in 1968, have been protected by canopies to shield the 1,200 or so staff and visitors from any threat of falling masonry.

The report shows County Hall is currently liable to flooding, blocked toilets and temperature extremes, while making the building more energy efficient will cut the council’s carbon footprint.

It states that by making a strategic investment in County Hall it will be possible to bring the existing building up to an acceptable standard.

The possibility of a new build was examined by NPS Property Consultants Ltd (NPS) on behalf of the county council, but has been rejected on cost grounds.

But other council leased or owned offices in and around Norwich look set to be closed, with staff switching to County Hall in an attempt to save about £2m a year.

Offices likely to be affected include Sapphire House, Vantage House, Charles House. Lakeside 500, Carrow House. some in the Jarrold Stand at Carrow Road, Lawrence House, Graphic House, Barton Way, Hooper Lane. Whiting Road, Bank Plain and and Blithemeadow Court.

Cliff Jordan, cabinet member for efficiency, said: “County Hall has now been in use for more than 40 years and anybody who visits it will know it is showing its age and in need of investment. In terms of energy efficiency, it falls well short of modern requirements.

“With reduced numbers of staff based in the building and changing budgets, it’s only right and proper to have carefully considered whether we should invest in the fabric of the building - or consider a new build elsewhere.

“The cost of a new build would simply be too expensive - far more than the proposal on the table.”

The council is, following its Big Conversation, making £135m worth of savings over three years, but leaders insisted the money to fix County Hall would not impact on services.

Ian Mackie, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for finance and performance, said the money would come from the authority’s capital fund, with the council also borrowing some money.

He said: “No services will be affected, nor savings required from other departments. In regards to the Big Conversation, we always said we would become a smaller organisation and this project will unlock those savings as we reduce our office space requirements in Norwich.”

The proposed programme will be discussed first by cabinet on Monday and by members of the corporate resources and scrutiny panel the following day.

A final decision will be taken by full council on Monday, July 23.

dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

44 comments

  • @Ed_Bunk - Sorry old chap, I just cannot abide snide and lazy jibes at people who are seen as different. If I came across as heavy handed, so be it, I'd rather that than tolerate bigots.

    Report this comment

    Valpy Word

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • It does seem in dire condition. It was a nice building when in decent condition but some parts of it need attention. I am wondering whether it would be better to demolish and rebuild it. Those who work there could surely be in rented offices for the time being?

    Report this comment

    Lynda Edwards

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • I wonder what the carbon footprint would be if some County staff had to work from home or report to District Councils offices. County Councillors could use video conferencing and would save the ratepayer a small fortune on fuel and car park space.

    Report this comment

    Alan Allan

    Friday, July 6, 2012

  • Sad, sad Norwich peeps. Why are you talking about demolition? It's been ruled out because of cost. I bet if the story was "Demolition of County Hall" there would be so many comments like "Surely in this economic climate it would be cheaper to refurbish." It's a bit of a non-story really. I suppose it just illustrates a culture of moaning distrust which probably is characteristic of Norfolk?.

    Report this comment

    oldowl

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Please don't tar all the staff with the same brush as some of the Councillors,. Some of the old Councillors are past their use by date. Party politics needs an overhaul, but how do you do it?

    Report this comment

    bedoomed

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • It's a rank building anyway. Rather than wasting all that money, it would be cheaper to knock it down and start again. Leave the car park to be used by the football supporters and build a new eco-friendly office somewhere like the Royal Norwich Golf Club or at the top of St James Hill looking out over the city. There might be infrastructure problems to start with but there is loads of land round Mousehold that could be used for car parking.

    Report this comment

    Duck and Dive in NR5

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • The repairs to County Hall have been needed for many years, and has nothing to do with the purchase of land at RAF Coltishall. I worked there from 1992 to 2010, until we were shipped out to another building, and I would be very happy to return there, in spite of the state of the building! Leaking roof, poor plumbing.... ceilings falling down... Saw them all in my time there. And it's not luxurious throughout.... only in areas that have been updated over the last few years. Surely it makes sense to move staff back from rented properties across the city, and use the money saved to pay for some of the repairs. Also, we need the building to be presentable and safe for the many thousands of visitors that go through the doors each year. It doesn't need to be relocated either, it's fine right where it is.

    Report this comment

    Carol Bolton

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • As I pointed out last week, the state of county hall has become a sad metaphor for NCC under the Murphy administration. Crumbling, diseased and no longer fit for purpose but being propped up by the Norfolk taxpayer nonetheless....

    Report this comment

    User Removed

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • By some spooky co-incidence, £22m is also the sort of money we're going to be looking at (including costs so far) when the planned incinerator is binned, shortly after we do the same to the Conservatives in 2013.....

    Report this comment

    User Removed

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • The badly constructed building is prone to concrete cancer one presumes, a problem that will soon multiply due to the many public buildings and infrastructure's that re built from it. Re building it elsewhere is too expensive, so the refurbishment has to be done with minimum disruption. Norwich is over supplied with office space and the old HMSO could easily be utilised during the asbestos removal stage, one would not want to endanger our servants now, would we.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, July 6, 2012

  • County Hall is a classic piece of 1970s architecture and should be protected through English Heritage. It stands proud on its mound and should be maintained at ANY cost.

    Report this comment

    Ed_Bunk

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Sad, sad Norwich peeps. Why are you talking about demolition? It's been ruled out because of cost. I bet if the story was "Demolition of County Hall" there would be so many comments like "Surely in this economic climate it would be cheaper to refurbish." It's a bit of a non-story really. I suppose it just illustrates a culture of moaning distrust which probably is characteristic of Norfolk?.

    Report this comment

    oldowl

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Started off with losing £32 million to the Icelandic Banks and will be lucky to receive little or no compo. With NCC having a fixation with burn and kill, Up to now has cost a fortune the rate payer to procurement for the incinerator over at Kings Lynn. It is just down to inexperience and we all have to pay one way or another with cuts to services. I would ask can we afford a County Council. Dave Cameron’s localism bill means keep Borough Councils and ditch County.

    Report this comment

    Choice

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Valpy and co. what I have a problem with is mediocrity. You might have noticed how difficult it is, without using FOI to discover just how capable candidates for election to local councils are of performing well in office. When more and more decisions are made in cabinet rather than before full councils and when cabinet members take it upon themselves to initiate or take a high profile role in commissioning projects I think we should ask just how they feel qualified to do so This is one reason why I would not support more power being devolved to parish and district councils where incompetence, lack of ability and potentially corruption would be more easily hidden. If anyone knows how some of these councillors feel qualified to speak on technical and business matters, other than by being a democratically elected representative please enlighten us.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

  • I would have thought that a combination of working from home and renting offices (as there are so many empty with a deal to be done on e.g. Stannard Place) that this would be a more practical solution going forward as technology evolves. Other than to keep people in jobs I do not understand the logic in refurbishing this building which will quickly become obsolete. The building could then be demolished and common land with a park put in its place.

    Report this comment

    Mike Jones

    Friday, July 6, 2012

  • Yet another misleading headline. "£22 million repair bill for county hall" Then further down it transpires it is over 25 years which equates to £0.88 million per year. Still, why let the truth get in the way of a sensational headline !.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Well, if Cliff Jordan endorses this expenditure, it's got to be, hasn't it.!?. He, like he describes County Hall, however, is also looking 'aged'.

    Report this comment

    Harry Brown

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Sorry Ed, got to disagree about the building being 'classic 1970's architecture', in my opinion it's hideous and an eyesore, it deserves to be pulled down and the area surrounding it would look far better without it. Council should look at moving somewhere else.

    Report this comment

    NorthCity

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • @ Valpy. Steady on man. Daisy's comment was on the poor side of humorous but yours is borderline offensive.

    Report this comment

    Ed_Bunk

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Just let it fall down.

    Report this comment

    Trevor Lincoln

    Friday, July 6, 2012

  • Knock it down and building something new instead its a horrible looking building

    Report this comment

    Martin P

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Ive just been censored for calling members of the Tory administration 'morally bankrupt undemocratic weasels'. Obviously the web moderator wasnt at the same meeting as Dan Grimmer and half the reporting team last Friday at county hall and hasnt seen any of David Powles' twitter comments either.....

    Report this comment

    User Removed

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • I agree with Mike Jones, get rid of it

    Report this comment

    turnover

    Friday, July 6, 2012

  • Daisy, perhaps you can explain what impact (if any) open plan offices have on the cost of repairing the exterior and the plumbing of a building, or are you just moaning for the sake of it? I bet your lips are glad when your face is asleep!

    Report this comment

    NR3Bob

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Hmmm, I thought it wouldn't be long after they wanted to acquire land at ex RAF Coltishall that murmurings about County Hall being unsuitable for use surfaced. They want the site for development!

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Ha Ha Canary Boy I like your way of thinking. That is an absolutely brilliant idea what a good use it would be of aggregate and yes leave Coltishall alone, but now here is a thought - what about if the NCC actually put their money where their mouth is (Oh sorry I forgot they haven't got any), and move into the buildings they are supposed to be purchasing at Coltishall - now there is a really good idea. Ask the general public who actually pay for everything and also elect the members of NCC Cabinet etc...they might just MIGHT get some votes - don't forget elections are not far away and they are not particularly endearing themselves to any of the public at the moment. Think on lovely people.....lets see if they actually make a good decision for once in their lives - think on Murphy, Jordan and Co.....

    Report this comment

    Slosers13

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Knock it down, and merge with a neighbouring County Council. As emergency services have to merge to save money, so should NCC. As for money not affecting other services, oh we have heard that so many times before, and the real truth is £22 million is just the start.

    Report this comment

    chebram71

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Opps another RG Carter Building!

    Report this comment

    City Boy

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • What an excellent idea Canary Boy. There is no reason at all why County Hall should not be moved lock stock and barrel to Coltishall where the land seems useless for development according to Cliff "walk on the River" Jordan. And if they want to turn part of the site into an incinerator then they are more than welcome to go ahead. After all they have waxed lyrical about how terribly safe it is. So there will be no objection from any Tory Councillor.....will there? And then the site in central Norwich can be used for a very lucrative development when it is sold to a proper property developer (the Cabinet at Council Hall would find some way of losing money over it otherwise as they couldn't arrange my dog's supper in its dog bowl without getting it wrong)

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Friday, July 6, 2012

  • With so many Norfolk schools going into Special Measures and then becoming academies, we soon won't need an education department. That makes the building too big for purpose. As for using NPS to do a costing. Beware!!

    Report this comment

    Jacob Burns

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • This money is to be spent over 25 years! a far better invesment than knocking it down to line some fat cat developers pockets with an ever increasing build cost! As for selling the site and developing it, how many 'modern' houses do you think they would cram on such a large site - again only the fat cat developers win and tax payers loose by having to increase infastrure traffic increasing. This building currently belongs to us so we have to foot the cost - or we could sell it to a big company and rent it back at an etortionate rate - think about the 'real' options!

    Report this comment

    outspoken

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • @Daisy Roots - Do you have some sort of problem with people carrying a bit of timber? How much do you weigh Daisy? Do you have any fat friends? Do you pick on ginger people too? Or blacks?

    Report this comment

    Valpy Word

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • I would transfer far more powers to district and parish councils, and reduce the size of the county council. It would then need a far smaller building that could be provided out of town and the current site sold off for private development.

    Report this comment

    Johnny Norfolk

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Let's all look short term! You have to invest for the future and phase spending over several years. The building is a libility. Only a mater of time before something falls of and hits someone. Only a matter of time before the building is deemed to be unsafe. Temporary offices would cost much more. A problem has been identified so move on and resolve it. Build a new more efficient office and knock down the old one.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Grow mushrooms in it, so finally something useful would come out of county hall...

    Report this comment

    madeinholt

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • The problem seems to be with cement. The Victorian factories made with brick are still standing in Yorkshire. Are NPS truly impartial? What would be the cost of building a new HQ? Tell us the facts.

    Report this comment

    bedoomed

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • County Hall might be an eyesore from the outside but there are plenty of workers out there who would welcome working in such a 'plush' interior! Some people just don't know when they're well off!! The taxpayer doesn't need them to work in anymore luxury!

    Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • I like Mike Jones`s suggestions.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

  • If they need to rebuild, there's a lovely bit of land at Happisburg; nice quiet neighbours, plenty of carparking space and a lovely view. Perfect purchase; NCC are so switched on when it comes to spending money! NOT!

    Report this comment

    jaybaxter

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Knocking it down would be costly but we could turn part of it into a park amd maybe use the car park as a park and ride? Theres a few empty office buildings around the city they could use. We have empty space in our building.

    Report this comment

    Piranha24

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Also here is another thought - isn't funny don't you think Councillor Jordan has been allowed to write a rather large piece in the North Norfolk News about Coltishall, and lo and behold it does not allow comments - I WONDER WHY - what a farce.... Incidentally it seems to be a lovely story and that is just what it is a HUGE STORY..... do read it you will be amazed.......

    Report this comment

    Slosers13

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • I agree with the knock it down bit, could use it as hardcore instead of Coltishall runway, I do not see a need to rebuilt it though. Let District councils start looking after their own budgets and provide their own services. At the moment all that happens at County is that a cabinet of 10 people impose their wishes on the whole of Norfolk. Excellent comment Fenscape, especially NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE in respect of the cabinet and their cronies. I do think they have now overstepped the mark and they will live to rue the day they elected Murphy to take over the leadership! For all his faults Dan Cox was not a dictator!!

    Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • Preventing exposure to asbestos has to be a priority.I am surprised these critical issues have not been addressed before this point.Mesothelioma deaths are entirely preventable.Why has the County Council be so tardy?

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • County Hall is a classic piece of 1970s architecture and should be protected through English Heritage. It stands proud on its mound and should be maintained at ANY cost.

    Report this comment

    Ed_Bunk

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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