THIS is the vision for Weymouth’s North Quay after the council leaves the prominent harbourside site.
The indicative artist’s impression has been produced by Poundbury architects Ben Penreath & Associates which have been appointed by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council to produce an outline planning application for a ‘sympathetic’ mixed development for North Quay.
The plan complements proposals for the old fire station nearby involving the same architects.
Recreating the historic route of High West Street, the scheme involves some 65 residential units plus commercial space.
The council decided last year to dispose of the site which has been its base for more than 40 years. Refurbishing the offices would cost more than £2 million.
Proposals have now been drawn up to transfer council operations to three different sites – including moving almost 100 staff to Dorchester. Relocating would save £220,000 a year.
The management committee is being recommended to back relocation options at a meeting next Tuesday.
Councillors will be told various sites were examined.
The capital costs associated with moving to the three sites amount to £450,000 but there are revenue costs on top. Selling the Guildhall and North Quay will help the council finance the move.
The majority of the council’s staff, those involved in ‘back office’ partnership work, would relocate to West Dorset District Council’s South Walks House in Dorchester. Concerns have been expressed that the local economy will be dealt a blow by the transfer of so many workers out of Weymouth.
Former president of the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce Mark Blunden said it was another example of jobs being ‘bled’ from Weymouth to Dorchester.
About 80 staff involved in local and back office functions would relocate to the council’s Crookhill Depot at Chickerell. Consultants have been appointed to develop plans to make ‘maximum practical use’ of the offices.
For ‘front of house’ operations, the council would take over space upstairs in the Mulberry Centre (behind the library) in Commercial Road where a handful of staff would be based. This new ‘civic suite’ would include a council chamber for meetings.
Environment Director David Evans said in a report: “Conver-sion of the Mulberry Centre and Crookhill Depot to accommodate staff delivering local services is recommended by far the cheapest of the options available. The accommodation is already in the ownership of the council and the revenue costs are already part paid for in existing budgets.”
COUNCIL finance and assets spokesman Peter Chapman said: “Full Council agreed to dispose of North Quay in February 2013 following public consultation which gave overwhelming public support for the move.
“Management Committee will look at a range of options for future development of the borough council’s North Quay offices and alternative accommodation arrangements for staff and the services they provide.
“Once achieved this will provide a significant capital receipt from the sale of the building and potentially save up to £220,000 reduction in annual running costs – helping protect services and the jobs that deliver them.
“The council will retain a town centre presence for both public enquiries and public meetings and the report to the committee proposes the use of the Mulberry Centre for these purposes.
“A sympathetic development of the North Quay site would improve the harbour setting while also providing housing.”