Specialist estate agents bring historic Cambridge site to market

Plans to relocate Cambridgeshire County Council’s administrative offices are moving forward, after a specialist sales agent was appointed to market the Shire Hall complex.

National agents Strutt & Parker are offering the opportunity to acquire an interest in the Castle Street site in Cambridge with a formal decision on its future expected in the Spring of 2019.

Full Council agreed in May that the County Council will move its administrative hub to smaller and more flexible office space at Alconbury by the end of 2020, with space for around 350 staff at any one time.

This is part of the council’s  move to a proposed ‘hub and spoke’ method of service delivery, which will see even more of its staff based closer to the communities they serve, whether that’s in existing offices, co-located with partners such as health or district councils, or using touch down facilities county wide.  

The move is expected to release more than £46 m to spend on essential services over the coming 30 years – and that’s even after accounting for the costs of the Alconbury hub.

The Shire Hall site, which occupies around six acres and with a main building dating from 1930, costs around £1m a year to maintain and is not ideal for flexible or digital working. Almost all of the council’s employees are already able to work flexibly from any council office base across the county.

Cllr Josh Schumann, Chairman of the Commercial and Investments Committee, said: “ This is a unique opportunity for the Council to release money that it currently spends on buildings to support vital frontline services

“Shire Hall is the current administrative base of Cambridgeshire County Council but very few members of the public actually visit– as our services are largely all provided elsewhere. We will maintain a presence in Cambridge City to ensure that residents can continue to access services locally.

“This move will allow the council to boost its presence in many other parts of the county too. No firm decisions have been made about the future of the Shire Hall site as this will now be marketed to bring the best return for the county’s council tax payers,. The key historic parts of the site will always be protected.”

Shire Hall has been the administrative centre of the County Council since the 1930’s but the site itself has been the seat of Government in Cambridge for over 1,000 years.

The first castle on the site was built by William the Conqueror in 1067, one of three royal castles in Cambridgeshire. The original structure was replaced by a much larger stone structure by Edward I in 1298, which survived through to the English Civil War.

The site is being launched to the market in the next few weeks and is expected by the agents to attract interest for a wide range of different uses.

  • Cambridgeshire County Council serves the whole of the county and currently employs around 5,300 employees based countywide.
  • Around 1300 employees are based at the Shire Hall complex (only around 350 at new Alconbury site)
  • 90% of its employees are already able to work flexibly – using any office base across the county
  • The council is working to achieve a ‘hub and spoke’ method of service delivery, which aims to base more staff closer to the communities they serve – in existing offices, co-located with partners such as health or district councils, or using touch down facilities county wide.
  • A smaller new build more flexible administrative ‘hub’ is planned in in Alconbury with space for around 300 - 350 staff.
  • Residents of Cambridge will still be able to access services as we will always retain a presence in Cambridge
  • Shire Hall building dates from 1930, is increasingly costly to maintain and isn’t ideal for flexible or digital working.
  • Access to its historic monument (Castle Mound) and protection of listed buildings on the site will be paramount whether the site is sold or leased.
  • There are no plans for the council stop operating from the Shire Hall complex until 2020.

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