Some could stay in city because of public transport links to new HQ

New civic hub Alconbury Weald

Artist's impression of the new civic hub for Cambridgeshire County Council at Alconbury Weald built at a cost of £18m. . - Credit: CCC

Some county council staff  could remain in Cambridge because public transport and access to a new HQ 23 miles away is yet to improve.  

With days before they take over the newly built £18m hub at Alconbury Weald, the council is considering retaining “significant office space” on the Shire Hall, Cambridge, campus. 

A council spokesperson said: “Currently public transport access to the site is more restricted than expected at the time the location was chosen. 

“The council remains committed to improving access there for staff and citizens.” 

It may decide the Octagon and Old Police House buildings at Shire Hall will be refurbished and could  accommodate some of its own staff. 

“At this stage, this is believed to be the best route to ensuring long-term and fit-for-purpose office accommodation on the current site,” said the spokesperson. 

“The council will be the landlord for that accommodation once refurbished, and it will be open to the council to determine the best usage, including the possibility of occupying some of that space itself.” 

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Agreement on what will happen is yet to be finally decided – the strategy and resources committee will be invited to determine options on July 6.  

Council leader Lucy Nethsingha said the move to Alconbury was initiated by the previous administration. 

“Had the timing been different the new joint administration would have preferred to reconsider this project.  

“However, with the Alconbury hub now almost complete, we accept that moving into the Alconbury is inevitable.” 

Deputy leader Elisa Meschini said they wanted to see “some level of county council presence on the Shire Hall site once it has re-developed". 

Shire Hall itself will be leased to Brookgate – the company behind the CB1 station redevelopment-and convert it to a 255-room apart-hotel. 

The council is also to change the way it receives payment for selling off Shire Hall. 

It was to receive an up-front capital receipt of around £30m, and a smaller annual revenue payment of £1.9m over the 40 years of the proposed leasehold arrangement. 

The council believes it is now more advantageous to the council and its taxpayers to receive a £13.7million capital receipt, and annual revenue income of £2.56m – which can be used for frontline services. 

The council will retain the freehold of the whole site, with a lease to the hotel operator for the hotel area.  

The council can end the lease in 40 years’ time for £1.