The opening date has been set for the new civic centre hub designed to boost a town centre economy and save taxpayers millions of pounds.
The £15.4 million, four storey Castle House, next to Queens Gardens in the centre of Newcastle, will open at 9am on Monday, July 23.
Construction has been managed by Staffordshire County Council and the building will house services from the County Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Staffordshire Police and Aspire Housing’s customer services department, as well as becoming home to the town centre library and Newcastle Register Office.
Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said:
By pulling together all these services under one roof in the centre of town, it will make life easier for Newcastle’s residents.
At the same time moving out of old buildings will save taxpayers millions of pounds in the long run and help local businesses by concentrating hundreds of workers close to the shops.”
Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council anticipates transferring its customer service centre from the Guildhall to Castle House and closing the reception at the Civic Offices in Merrial Street at 5pm on Friday, July 20.
Cllr. Simon Tagg, Leader of the Borough Council, said:
It is pleasing to be finally moving into the building.
Our staff has already begun to transfer from the old Civic Offices in preparation for Castle House opening to the public on Monday. By working together under one roof, partners should be able to deliver significant financial savings for local council taxpayers and provide more joined-up services to residents.”
Castle House, which can also be accessed from Hassell Street, faces Queens Gardens where extensive improvement works costing around £190,000 have also been carried out. New and better seating has been provided for the public, paths have been upgraded and widened, trees planted and the bandstand setting revamped. There is also improved lighting in the area.
Finance for the Queens Gardens work has come from a variety of sources, including a section 106 agreement from a nearby development to provide student accommodation.
Staffordshire Police officers and police community support officers will be moving in to the building on July 16th. The move coincides with the force increasing the numbers of officers posted to Newcastle neighbourhood policing team, part of a significant increase across the county.
Aspire Housing is also opening its first housing self-serve centre for use by all of its customers at the new Castle House building on July 23. It will be open each day 9am-5pm to help customers get online with their Aspire web accounts and host drop-in sessions covering money advice services and information on health and wellbeing services.
Tracey Johnson, Aspire’s Executive Director of Customer Experience, said:
This new opening is a really exciting opportunity for us to deliver a modern housing service in a beautiful space.
It provides opportunities for us to host even more community events and customer engagement activities and we’re sure our customers are going to love it!”
The library and register office will both open in Castle House at 9am on July 23. The new library will be on the ground and first floors, with a lift connecting the two. As well as thousands of books, it will have a dedicated children’s area, space for accessing archive materials and the photographic collections of national museums and galleries, plus places for 37 PCs.
The register office, currently in Sidmouth Avenue, is not making appointments Thursday and Friday July 19 and 20, but will be open for walk-in enquiries. On Saturday July 21 all visits are by appointment only.
Delivered by Kier Construction on behalf of Staffordshire County Council, the energy-efficient building also contains meeting rooms which can be used by the public.