The original £36million pound project included:
* Business hub – up to 39,000 square feet of new office space on the Town Hall car park to attract more businesses, jobs and inward investment.
* Civic Hub – council employees are currently spread over 17 different buildings. This element of the project included the regeneration of Tor Hill house, Electric House and the Town Hall so that staff could be brought together. This is turn would create major savings for the council, make it more efficient and enable members of the public to access council services in one area.
* Community Hub – represented the community elements of the project such as a cafe, community space for meetings and partner space e.g. police and Care Trust at the Town Hall, as well as improvements to the Assembly Hall.
Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Councillor Chris Lewis said: “In simple terms the recent budget announcement means that like local authorities across the country we will have to find savings of around 25 percent over the next four years.
“This has posed a huge challenge for us and it is therefore only right that we look at the level of borrowing required for this project against the long-term, financial benefits that delivering such a project could bring.”
In recent weeks has been reviewed and the following decisions have been made:
* The Business Hub will now be removed from the Castle Circus Project and taken forward as a stand alone project with the private sector. This will ensure that any financial risks to the council are reduced whilst still helping to regenerate the area.
* The Community Hub elements, including the cafe and community meeting rooms, will be put on hold. Further work will continue on business cases for this part of the project and work may still go ahead if the council is confident that the proposals represent good value for money.
*The Civic Hub plans are seen as the most important element of the project in generating long-term savings for the council and will continue. However, it will be considerably scaled back and therefore the timetable will also change.
Cllr Lewis added: “These decisions are absolutely the right thing to do in this current economic climate. It makes good business sense to reduce the number of buildings that we currently occupy. Inevitably some work will be involved in order to create as many spaces as possible within Tor Hill House, Town Hall and Electric House, however, the considerable long-term savings will far outweigh any initial costs.
“We would still like to deliver the community elements of the project in the future but will only do so if there is a robust business case that supports the proposals.”