Tag: shirehall

Big Bang Shrewsbury redevelopment plans are too risky – the council should move to the Guildhall

It is the stuff of dreams. It is also the stuff of nightmares. A radical redevelopment of Shrewsbury town centre between Pride Hill and the River Severn is expected to cost at least £77 million. Most of this money could come from loans expected to cost council taxpayers around £4m a year. The scheme will involve the sale of Shirehall and a construction of a new civic centre on Raven Meadows in a building that will cost more than £37m. Shropshire Council is being too ambitious. It has a poor track record having purchased three shopping centres which have since plummeted in value from £51m to £12m in just three years. It is now desperate to do something with the closed Pride Hill Centre, the failed Riverside Centre and the crumbling Raven Meadows car park. There are less risky approaches to the one the council is taking. The council and key staff could relocate to the Guildhall. The University of Chester could relocate into an entertainment, leisure and education complex on Pride Hill and Riverside.

Historic England recommends Shirehall should not be listed paving the way for its demolition and sale

Yesterday, Historic England issued a decision on the listing of Shirehall on Abbey Foregate. The secretary of state has decided not to list the 1960s civic building. He has said he is minded refusing a certificate of immunity to prevent the building being demolished but that is now a technicality unless there is a legal challenge to the refusal of listing. The decision will clear the way for the 10-acre site to be cleared for housing and Shropshire Council can put the money towards its shopping centres which very soon will have absorbed more than £60 million of public money. That money could have provided at least 250 social homes. But the council leadership is saddled with the centres which are only worth two-thirds of the money the council paid for them three years ago and that is its priority for spending.   Update: After I published this post the Twentieth Century Society published an article supporting the listing of Shirehall.

Council leaders worried that Shirehall will be listed by Historic England apply for immunity certificate (updated)

Without informing councillors, Shropshire Council has applied for a certificate of immunity to protect its Shirehall headquarters from being listed. Councillors only heard about this yesterday. The consultation by Historic England ends on Friday. Council leader Peter Nutting has said the decision to apply for a certificate of immunity is not controversial as the council decision in July on the future of Shirehall was quite clear. But councillors did not agree to demolish Shirehall. They agreed to stop work on the ambitious and expensive plans to remodel Shirehall and explore developing a new civic centre in Shrewsbury town centre. Demolition was not discussed. The secret move to get a certificate of immunity is typical of the current council leadership’s approach. Councillors are informed on a need to know basis and, in Peter Nutting’s opinion, most councillors don’t need to know.

Shropshire Council plans to pull down Shirehall in favour of a Shrewsbury civic centre – it should devolve more to the market towns

Shropshire Councillors are to discuss demolishing the unloved Shirehall and replacing it with a civic centre in the Shrewsbury Loop. The Shirehall site will be sold, presumably for housing. The potential location of the civic centre has not been revealed (I think Riverside would be a good location). More details may be given at the Shropshire Council meeting on Thursday morning. There is a lot of sense in this proposal. Staff and councillors are now largely working from home. Shirehall is a vast, unwelcoming, energy inefficient, concrete monstrosity. A smaller, more accessible civic centre makes better sense. But it should be called Shropshire Civic Centre to reflect its county wide role, not Shrewsbury Civic Centre which makes it sound like a town facility. Council leaders are asking councils to give permission for a further £1.15 million to look at the case for a civic centre. At this point I get nervous. The council allocated £1.5 million to look at refurbishment of Shirehall. That proved to be a waste of money. We can’t waste any more.

Shropshire in crisis: Don’t spend £25 million on Shirehall, council staff should work around the county

Shropshire Council is one of the largest employers in our county. Yet it has concentrated most of its staff in Shrewsbury. That sucks jobs and expenditure from the rest of the county. It also means that its view of Shropshire is dominated by Shrewsbury and rural areas barely get a look in. There is a different model. Back office operations could be devolved around the county to give the rest of the county would get an economic and democratic boost. Shirehall should be knocked down and replaced with a mix of offices and homes.

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