Falkirk Council expected to move forward with plans for new £21 million headquarters

An artist's impression of how Falkirk Council's new home at West Bridge Street could look when it opens in the Spring of 2017 at a cost of �21 million
An artist's impression of how Falkirk Council's new home at West Bridge Street could look when it opens in the Spring of 2017 at a cost of �21 million

Councillors are expected to move ahead with plans to build themselves a new £21 million headquarters when they meet on Monday.

The special meeting of Falkirk Council is likely to agree spending £175,000 to buy the Westfield Clinic at West Bridge Street from NHS Forth Valley to make way for the new Municipal Buildings.

Some people expressed concern about the council committing a significant expenditure on the project at a time of austerity

Rhona Geisler, director of development services

They will also be asked to approve investigation into the possibility of going into partnership with Forth Valley College and siting a replacement town hall and arts centre at its £80 million campus due to open in 2019.

The council recognised years ago the current Municipal Buildings has reached the end of its serviceable life.

Building a new HQ has the potential of saving over £260,000 a year and offers the chance to bring staff at Abbotsford House, Callendar Square and Willow House all under the one roof.

A 108-page report from Rhona Geisler, the council’s director of development services, follows three months of public consultation into stage one of the project - and takes on board some of the concerns raised.

Following the concerns of neighbours of the Wellside Court retirement flats next door, it is now proposed to reduce the height of the planned new build by 1.3 metres to reduce the risk of ‘over shading’ and protect the OAPs privacy - and move the building seven metres further away from the boundary.

Ahead of applying for planning permission, it is also proposed the council address the question of putting in place “protective measures’ while demolition is underway and addressing working hours during the period of construction.

Councillors will be told that after advertising details of the plan on the council website and Falkirk Council News, completing online surveys, hosting a series of ‘drop in’ events in the Howgate Centre and meeting with chairs of community councils, many said they are in favour of the project.

In her report Rhona Geisler says: “The level of interest shown by the public is apparent, but not significant. Some people expressed concern about the council committing a significant expenditure on the project at a time of austerity.

“This may have misconstrued the project’s purpose and, when explained that it has to be delivered within fixed budgets unavailable to be re-direceted, there was a level of satisfaction to the council’s approach.”