New £15.7m Top Wighay council office on Ashfield border due for approval but opposition concerns remain

Nottinghamshire Council is expected to approve its multi-million-pound new office development at Top Wighay Farm next week.

By Andrew Topping
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 9:11 am
Updated Friday, 22nd July 2022, 9:37 am

The £15.7 million building, on the Ashfield-Linby border, has been in the pipeline for several years and will join hundreds of new homes and business space on the former greenfield site.

Initial estimates for the building, which could host a raft of relocated services from several council-owned buildings, had been £14.7m when first confirmed in 2020, but rose by £1m due to increasing construction costs.

If approved, the building will be the Conservative-led council’s first completely carbon-neutral office and also boast leasable spaces and flexible accommodation for local businesses.

An artist's impression of the Top Wighay building.

It comes as part of a wider ‘Investing in Nottinghamshire’ review of the council’s buildings portfolio, which has seen the number of sites owned or leased by the authority reduced from 17 to nine over the past year.

This, the council confirmed last week, has brought about more than £1m in annual savings through maintenance costs and upkeep.

Now the authority is recommending approval for the new office, which it says will help make further savings, while improving several elements of how its services are provided.

Coun Keith Girling, council portfolio holder for economic development and asset management, said: “The new building will house services such as adult and children’s social care, which are currently based in leased office space.

“We will move out of buildings we rent and bring services closer to the residents who need them the most, which will cut their travel time and help the environment.

“We have focused on improving our buildings which offer services to our most vulnerable residents.

“Top Wighay aims to be as carbon-neutral as possible and will be built to the highest standards when it comes to sustainable buildings.”

However, opposition councillors have repeatedly raised concerns about the plans and the impact the Top Wighay development could have on neighbouring areas like Linby.

Concerns include traffic issues from the office and the wider development, as well as the impact on local infrastructure.

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Earlier this month, Ashfield Council passed a motion to oppose the new office, which sits within Gedling borough.

Coun Dave Shaw told the meeting: “It will devastate the local infrastructure.”

“We will have the impact of traffic, while the money that could have been saved by not creating the building could have been spent on the existing infrastructure in the area.

“When a hybrid-working policy has been put in place and there are hundreds of empty spaces in existing buildings, I cannot get my head around the logic.”

However, the council says issues with traffic have already been mitigated by an expanded roundabout at the A611/Annesley Road junction, a new signal-controlled junction, as well as a new footway and cycle lane.

The new office also couples council plans to review the future of its County Hall headquarters in West Bridgford, with the Top Wighay building being touted as a potential home for relocated services.

Coun Ben Bradley, council leader and Mansfield MP, has admitted the authority is exploring whether to sell its West Bridgford home, which is expected to cost tens of millions of pounds to bring up to scratch and become carbon-neutral.

Members of the council’s planning and rights of way committee will be recommended to approve the new office on Tuesday.