New designs have been unveiled showing how offices will be revamped as part of East Staffordshire Borough’s Council’s controversial plans to return to Burton Town Hall six years after leaving.
The Burton Mail previously revealed that the council will spend £700,000 to move its dwindling number of staff from The Maltsters, in Wetmore Road, Burton, to its former home at the town hall annexe in King Edward Place, which is currently abandoned offices.
The announcement has sparked much debate among readers, many of who have dubbed it a waste of money.
The authority moved to The Malsters in 2011 in a bid to save £300,000 at the time.
The council also revealed it has considered remaining at The Maltsters with a smaller footprint but it would be forced to continue paying relatively high lease costs, with very little savings.
The council also revealed it is still paying £55,901.50 in 'empty' business rates for the town hall due to Valuation Office Agency (VOA) rules. It has to pay the cash even though it is currently not using all of the building.
Now, 3D designs have been unveiled along with a planning application seeking approval to refurbish these office areas, which will include the removal of internal walls, replacement of windows in the annexe, and the blocking up of doorways.
The council has to apply to its own planning department for permission for the sceheme.
The authority previously revealed that a change in services it provides as well as a drop of staff from 200 in 2010 to around 106 this year led to it carrying out an accommodation review.
It is also hoping to increase the number of staff working from home. This was acknowledged in the latest application which says the proposed desk lay-outs accommodate 44 people on the ground floor and 44 people on the first floor, a total of just 88 people.
Gareth King, of Altrincham-based architects Pozzini, acting on behalf of the council, said in the report: “The works are in less than half of the existing building. The proposal is generally to bring the abandoned spaces back up to a habitable state.
“The site is more central than the current location at The Maltsters so offers better opportunities to use public transport.
“The proposal is relatively modest in terms of the areas of work with in the building. The works are necessary to bring the building up to a suitable level fit for occupation. The proposal is a contemporary aesthetic providing new colours and products to re-imagine the town hall whilst respectfully highlighting and enhancing the splendour of the old building.
“The annexe, which was added around 1970, is not to the same high standard as the original building it is also the area requiring the most significant amount of building work. This includes replacing the original steel single-glazed windows so that the office areas can offer users a thermally comfortable environment throughout the year.
"The existing windows fitted with timber framed secondary glazing do not work effectively. The proposed windows are conservation frames constructed from PPC aluminium and double glazed units. The larger rooms with higher numbers of occupants will have comfort cooling.
The move will not include the 'newer' UTC part of the town hall, which it is believed will be taken over by The de Ferrers Academy. No date has yet been fixed for when the planning application will be considered.