Hertford Civic Society reports on Hertfordshire County Council’s withdrawal from most of the County Hall site
Hertfordshire County Council has announced that most staff are to leave County Hall. While the front part is earmarked for retention ‘for democratic and civic purposes’, a process of marketing for employment use is being carried out for the remainder of the site. This is because County Hall is not being used to capacity and the County Council faces significant financial pressures.
Hertford Civic Societyrequested a meeting with the team responsible for the re-development of the site. Their names are below.
Here are some brief notes on this event, which took place on 21 November 2023.
- During an initial phase (one year), marketing of the site as a place of office employment will be explored by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), though this is not expected to generate a result.
- HCC is holding monthly meetings with East Herts Council (EHC). EHC is responsible for planning in East Herts – including any proposal that might made by HCC for the County Hall site.
- The HCC team confirmed that as part of their review of the EHC District Plan they might expect to be proposing alternative uses of the site, while retaining the front buildings which are listed (grade II*).
- The HCC team said that due to Covid/flexible working (often from home) lunchtime spend by HCC staff within Hertford has already been much impacted, for some time.
- Civic uses are expected to continue for the front buildings eg Weddings and other possible options – and the Chamber could be opened up for alternative community uses eg orchestras.
- HCC owns a cluster of 3 buildings in Stevenage to which staff would mostly move – Robertson House (already used for Childrens Services and Adult Social Care), Abel Smith House (bought for investment and let out) and Farnham House (already in use and being reconfigured to accommodate more staff).
- HCC has received £26m from the Government to upgrade Stevenage campus, particularly its environmental standards.
- Herts Archives future location is still under consideration but may move from the current site. Potential funding is anticipated from HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund).
- Woodland and cricket pitch is to be retained as it is; sources of funds are being explored to re-provision the cricket pavilion which was the victim of an arson attack. Hertford Civic Society suggested this be communicated to nearby residents so as to avoid unnecessary anxiety.
- Major HCC staff move to Stevenage expected Spring 2024.
- Hertford Civic Society reiterated the need to ensure the site is ofhigh quality visually and environmentally, and that a wide range ofpossible uses should be considered which could benefit Hertford.
- Car parking – this was one potential type of community use beingexplored as an interim measure eg Richard Hale has expressedsome interest.
- The whole process of change and re-development is expected totake some years.
For Hertford Civic Society:
Malcolm Ramsay Terry Betts
Jan Goodeve Mike Howarth
Sass Pledger – Director of Property Robert Smyth – Strategic Asset Manager Madeleine Lewis – Project Manager
Should you be interested in finding out more about Hertford Civic Society or even joining please take a look at our website www.hertfordcivicsociety.org.uk