Alconbury could be new headquarters for Cambridgeshire County Council

Shire Hall Cambridge.

Shire Hall Cambridge. - Credit: Archant

Alconbury has been named as the preferred choice for the relocation of Cambridgeshire County Council’s headquarters.

The authority is being asked to ratify the move at a meeting on Tuesday and to authorise council chiefs to acquire a site at Urban and Civic’s Alconbury Weald development on the former Alconbury airfield.

The move could also bring more jobs to the Huntingdon area.

Alconbury emerged as the top choice for a new council headquarters after coming narrowly ahead of the Northstowe new town settlement when a longlist of around 30 sites was whittled down to two.

The cost of the project, if it goes ahead, has not been revealed but would clearly run to many millions of pounds and the future of the present Shire Hall headquarters is also unclear - although the council wants to maintain a presence in Cambridge.

The council’s Commercial and Investment Committee considered the two sites behind closed doors on April 27 and came up with the Alconbury recommendation.

Members of the committee agreed to pass the final decision on to the full council because of its significance - despite having the power to make a decision themselves.

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The future of Shire Hall has been in question for some time and the authority’s desire for a “locality based” model for services would reduce the need for a headquarters the size of the present building.

A move could also help save the council millions of pounds at Shire Hall, which opened in the 1930s.

A report to the full council said: “Relocating the council’s headquarters from Cambridge will distribute the economic impact that the council brings as an employing organisation around the county.

“Both the acquisition and construction costs associated with the move will have economic benefits to the economy. The alternative uses of Shire Hall will also have a positive impact on the Cambridgeshire economy.”

The report also said: “Access has understandably been a key discussion point since the council first considered the motion in 2016.

“Over time, as a result of staff turnover, the workforce off the future will migrate to travel patterns that they find personally acceptable, irrespective of the location.

“In the long term, therefore, in terms of staff recruitment, whether the location of the headquarters is Alconbury or Northstowe is not significant.”

The report said: “However, in the short term the council will undoubtedly lose some staff through this process.

“Given the challenges of recruiting roles that are based in Cambridge, the council may, however, have access to a greater resource pool through the relocation of the headquarters to either site.”

It added: “As part of the business case considered by the committee, an analysis of the potential staff resource pools off the future were identified.”