Ambitious plans for a new Falkirk Council headquarters and arts centre are moving apace.
The latest report to councillors reveals that progress is being made on the project which is seen as a commitment by the local authority to boosting the town centre prospects in the wake of a raft of shop closures.
Work has started on a business case for the project with the longer term aim of finding a development partner as the council looks to establish the best location for the new facilities which will replace the current Municipal Buildings in West Bridge Street.
Talks have also been held with NHS Forth Valley and other community planning planners over the potential to ‘co-locate’ on the site – wherever it should be.
A specific business case for the new arts venue – which is anticipated to include a 500 seater venue – is also being drawn up in partnership with Falkirk Community Trust.
Around £300,000 will be spent on the procurement phase and feasibility work needed for the HQ and arts centre.
Earlier this year a town centre working group was set up, which includes the council, Falkirk BID (Business Improvement District) and other stakeholders.
A workshop was held at the start of this month and also involved representatives from Scottish Futures Trust and Architecture & Design Scotland.
Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, leader of Falkirk Council, told last week’s executive committee which met to discuss the report: “If we work together with our partners the town centre will begin to grow.”
She added: “Good progress has been made in taking this important project forward and partners are working well together.
“We recognise the importance of doing all we can to protect and improve our town centre and this project will offer great opportunities to ensure it is reinvigorated.
“We still have a long way to go but the work that has already taken place is very encouraging.”
Initial consideration of what the new council headquarter should look like has led to officials suggesting a three or four storey building of around 5200 square metres of floor area.
This would include open office space with an estimated six desks available to every ten employees.
The ‘hot desk’ approach is in line with the council’s “mobile and flexible working approach”.
Although a minimum of 300 workstations are envisaged in the new building, officers were asked to also look at options for 500 and 700 workstations in a larger building.
The local authority is looking for a “prominent frontage location” to give credence to the council’s aspirations for the area, as well as providing a building where people can meet and view councillors at work during meetings.
A new headquarters must also be easy to access and fit in with the town centre to ensure “the HQ augments the townscape and aids economic regeneration”.
It must also have good road and public transport links.
It will have dedicated parking spaces for council pool vehicles, and accessible spaces and cycle/motorcycle parking.
The report said it was envisaged staff will be required to use existing town centre car parks.