Civic centre set to close after more than 31 years as home to council services (From The Advertiser Series)
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Civic centre set to close after more than 31 years as home to council services
2:43pm Friday 23rd August 2013 in News
THE award-winning Chester-le-Street Civic Centre is set to close in the autumn.
The futuristic metal building in Newcastle Road, which was built in the early 1980s to house the now-defunct Chester-le-Street District Council, will shut in October.
Durham County Council plans to move its customer access point – which handlescouncil tax and housing benefit queries - to Cestria Community Housing’s hub at 128 Front Street, in the middle of the town centre.
Back office staff from the planning and benefits departments will also move.
The building is still occasionally used for council committee meetings and served as a venue for counts at several local and national elections.
The Civic Centre was officially opened by the Duke of Gloucester on May 6, 1982.
Architects Faulkner-Brown, Hendy, Watkinson and Stonor, of Killingworth, conceived the offices as part of a pedestrian route through the town similar to a shopping mall.
The design was highly acclaimed and between 1983 and 1986 it received a number of prestigious architectural awards.
Councillor Brian Stephens, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “We welcome this opportunity to work alongside Cestria Community Housing to continue to provide a range of council services to the residents of Chester-le- Street.
“We hope the move will benefit our customers as they will be able to access all services from the same office in a central location in the town.”
Cestria’s customer relationship manager, Lisa Coverdale, said: “Having extended the hub last year we are really pleased to now be welcoming Durham County Council to share the space with us.
“We believe this move will benefit local people by providing an even wider range of services from one location and we look forward to hearing what customers from both our organisations think of the idea.”
Consultation on the changes will take place with customers between 19 August and 13 September with the customer access point scheduled to relocate in October. The registration service and planning teams will also move to the hub.
Tracie Smith, councillor for Chester-le-Street North, said: “It will be interesting to see what the findings of the consultation are.
“I would have thought it is a better location on Front Street. It is more customer-friendly and easier to access. There is a bus stop right outside.’’
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