Wyre Forest District Council has unveiled exciting plans to invest £3m in creating an improved, more efficient depot for its front-line services in Green Street, Kidderminster.
The proposals involve bringing two locally listed buildings – a former pumping station and sewerage treatment apparatus - back into full use by completely refurbishing them and demolishing an energy inefficient building that fronts Green Street. The buildings, which date back to late 1800s and early 20th century, form part of the Green Street Conservation Area.
Other buildings will be refurbished or rebuilt and the changes will allow more efficient use of the site for operational purposes and address the need to replace waste transfer facilities. The plan also sees the creation of eight small industrial units for rental on the site, to generate additional income.
Councillor Marcus Hart, Leader of Wyre Forest District Council, said “These proposals will complete the significant investment that we have made in our core assets over the last few years. Wyre Forest House and the Wyre Forest Leisure Centre mean that we have modern, fit for purposes offices and leisure provision, which between them have lowered running costs by over £1m a year.
“Now we are demonstrating our commitment to front-line operational services by a major investment at the Green Street depot. This will provide the opportunity to generate additional income. It will mean that our front-line staff have upgraded workplace facilities and will operate from a site that offers improved infrastructure: from resurfaced areas for vehicle storage and manoeuvring to improved IT and better energy efficiency.”
The investment at Green Street will allow the move of the council’s customer service centre from the Town Hall to the site, where they will be joined by revenues and benefits staff. Following Council approval of capital funding for the project, notice would be given to Kidderminster Town Council of the council’s intention to vacate the part of the Town Hall occupied by the customer service centre.
Councillor Nathan Desmond, Cabinet member for Resources, said “There has been a 50% reduction in visits to the customer service centre in the last 5 years and a reduction in telephone calls as well. This reflects the move to delivering services online, which allows residents and others to access services 24 hours a day from the comfort of their own homes. Now is the time to invest in a more efficient footprint for the face-to-face customer service and bring this together with revenues and benefits staff in one location. The change will allow the council to give the best possible service to residents with more complex needs.”
Councillor Rebecca Vale, Cabinet Member for Operational Services, added “I am delighted to see these proposals coming forward. The Depot has an excellent reputation for cost-effective services already and offers a range of additional services that local residents and businesses can buy, from collection of green waste and commercial waste to grounds maintenance work. This investment will reinforce the offer, by giving the Depot a more efficient operating platform that also generates income from rental of small industrial units.”
The proposals will be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at 6pm on Thursday 2 November and the main decisions will be taken by the Cabinet at its meeting at 6pm on Tuesday 14 November. Council’s agreement to amend the capital programme to include the full cost of the project would be sought at its meeting in December. These meetings are open to the public and the Cabinet and Council meetings will also be webcast.
The timetable would see submission of a planning application before Christmas and, subject to planning permission being successfully granted, works are expected to commence by mid 2018. The relocation of the customer service centre to Green Street is scheduled by the spring of 2019, with the entire site works completed in late summer/autumn 2019.
The master plan for the new site has been produced by Sjolander da Cruz Architects and project management will be provided by Six Consulting. The main construction works will be let as a design and build contract following a competitive tendering process.
The earliest date on which the council can terminate the under lease on the space occupied by the customer service hub at the Town Hall is 31 March 2019, and notice must be served at least 12 months in advance. The proposal includes
(subject to Council approval of the amendment to the capital programme at its meeting in December) giving 15 months’ notice to the Town Council of the termination of the under lease. It will be a matter for the Town Council to decide how to use the vacated space at the Town Hall.