Nottinghamshire Council approves £15.7m new office building on Ashfield border

Nottinghamshire Council has approved its multi-million-pound new office building at Top Wighay Farm.

The £15.7 million building, on the Ashfield-Linby border, has been in the pipeline for several years and will join the 805 new homes and business spaces already approved on the large, former greenfield site.

The building will be the authority’s first carbon-neutral office and will have flexible accommodation and leasable spaces for local businesses once it eventually opens.

Its construction was approved in the latest council planning committee meeting at County Hall.

An artist's impression of how the new offices at Top Wighay Farm will look

The building comes as part of the wider ‘Investing in Nottinghamshire’ programme aimed at assessing the authority’s property portfolio.

A review conducted during the pandemic led to the number of sites leased or owned by the authority reducing from 17 to nine over the past year, bringing more than £1m in annual savings through maintenance costs and upkeep.

However, the meeting came less than two weeks after Coun Ben Bradley, council leader and Mansfield MP, confirmed the authority’s current County Hall home could be closed or sold in the future.

A review is due to take place to assess whether the authority gets value for money from its West Bridgford base, which is expected to cost tens of millions of pounds in the coming years to bring up to scratch.

Coun Bradley said the Top Wighay building could be a destination for relocated services if County Hall did close, leading to concerns over travel assessments conducted for the building in its proposed form.

Coun Daniel Williamson, who represents Kirkby South, raised concerns about the potential County Hall closure and said Coun Bradley’s comments ‘throw into serious doubt’ exactly how Top Wighay will be used.

He moved to defer any decision until ‘proper assessments’ had been conducted into the wider impact of a potential County Hall relocation, but his deferral was voted down.

Matt Neal, council service director for investment and growth, told the meeting moving further services from County Hall to Top Wighay would require a separate planning application to be submitted and approved.

This, he told councillors, could include the creation of a new debating chamber, press gallery and other functions used by the council in making decisions at its West Bridgford base.

He said departments dealing with “sensitive” issues like adult and children’s social care – which are currently based in leased office space – will find a new home at Top Wighay once it is complete.

And he confirmed the building is expected to be completed and open to council staff by winter 2024.

Prior to the meeting, concerns had been raised about the building’s impact on local infrastructure in neighbouring towns and villages like Linby, when coupled with the wider Top Wighay development.

Objections were raised to the potential for extra traffic on the nearby A611 bypass, as well as the wider effect the plans could have on roads in the area.

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