Work set to begin on new council site

CONSTRUCTION work that will culminate in the demolition and replacement of Huntingdonshire District Council s headquarters, Pathfinder House, is set to begin early next month. Completion later this week of the £1.68million sale of land by St John s Colleg

CONSTRUCTION work that will culminate in the demolition and replacement of Huntingdonshire District Council's headquarters, Pathfinder House, is set to begin early next month.

Completion later this week of the £1.68million sale of land by St John's College, Cambridge, to HDC clears the way for the first part of the three-year £24million project - moving HDC's depot from Godmanchester to Latham Road, on Huntingdon's Interchange industrial estate.

When complete next summer, some staff from Pathfinder House will move to the Godmanchester site while work starts on the first of four new buildings in St Mary's Street.

The council has at last signed a final deal with its preferred-bidder-since-February, Alfred McAlpine, which will cap construction costs at £20.5million - £4.6million for building work at Latham Road and £15.9million for the headquarters replacement. This includes a notional £1million value of the Grade II* Listed Castle Hill House, adjacent to Pathfinder House, which will be sold for residential accommodation once planning and listed building consents have been sorted.

A planning application for the Pathfinder House replacement is expected within three or four weeks, with building work due to begin next summer.

The operations centre will provide a base for the council's refuse and recycling operations that serves 65,000 homes in the district. The building will also house a new 24/7 CCTV control room centre, which will be at the heart of the network of more than 100 cameras aimed at helping to reduce crime in the district's town centres.

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HDC expects around 60,000 visitors a year when its new accommodation is complete, with "state of the art offices to a highly environmentally friendly specification," housing 400 staff. In addition to the customer service centre, the new headquarters complex will provide space for the council's public meetings.

HDC added: "Together with the new criminal justice centre, planned redevelopment of land on Walden Road, the ongoing improvements to Chequers Court and the recently completed Saxongate development, the replacement of Pathfinder House contributes to improving the quality of the building within the ring road and adjacent to the retail core of the town.

"The visual amenity of the town has already been enhanced by the district council-funded improvements to the floorscape in High Street and St Benedict's Court.

"The relocation of activity from the existing Godmanchester depot to the new operations centre will remove a large number of heavy vehicle movements from the Godmanchester conservation area."

In addition to construction and land acquisition costs, the £24million total includes fit-out, furniture and fees.

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