Since planning permission was granted for the project in October 2012, a huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes to bring the hub a step closer to reality.
The council has been working closely with its partners to ensure it can maximise the use of its Shepton Mallet offices, while also appointing a build contractor for the project, carrying out surveys of the site, demolishing an old storage depot on site and procuring a new ICT and communications system for the hub.
Building plans for the hub have been revised in a bid to make the new reception area more accessible and welcoming to visitors.
The new expanded and improved reception area will now be developed in its current location at the Cannards Grave Road site, providing an attractive and customer-friendly one stop shop for many of the key public service providers in the district.
Meanwhile, the ‘1984’ building – named after the year it was built – will be completely transformed to provide a new council chamber on the first floor, along with a new two-storey extension which will provide additional office space.
The council’s Shepton Mallet site will act as a central hub for a number of public services groups. Those already confirmed to be joining Mendip District Council at the hub include Avon and Somerset police, Capita, Somerset County Council and Shepton Mallet Town Council. Other key public service and voluntary sector providers are expected to confirm that they will also co-locate.
Building work is due to get under way in the summer. Once completed, staff from the other frontline services to be based at the hub will move on to the site alongside existing Mendip District Council employees, with almost 600 jobs based at the Shepton Mallet site.
The creation of the public hub is a groundbreaking idea from Mendip District Council, which will see the authority maximise the use of its council offices in Shepton Mallet, saving local taxpayers millions of pounds.
Financial projections show that Mendip District Council could make net revenue savings of almost £6.5million over 20 years from the hub project. The rationalisation of the district council’s office space will give it the opportunity to generate revenue by facilitating the public sector hub.
Donna Nolan, Mendip District Council’s Corporate Manager for Governance, Assets and Public Spaces, said: “This is an ambitious and challenging project, but one that will improve service delivery to the people of Mendip, while helping the council to make savings that can be ploughed back into frontline services.
“A lot of work has been going on at the council in recent months to bring the hub to fruition and the project now has real momentum to it.
“I’m hopeful that, should Cabinet endorse the overall progress of the project to date, we will be in a position to start building work this summer and move our public service partners onto site in the autumn.”
Cllr John Parham, Portfolio Holder for Governance, Assets and Public Spaces, said: “This project is a fantastic example of the forward-thinking way this council operates. We are always looking to innovate and offer council taxpayers first-rate services while getting value for money.
“The hub will bring key public service providers onto one site in the centre of the Mendip district, making these partners even more accessible than before.
“It is also good news for the local Shepton Mallet economy. With more staff based at the council’s offices, it should lead to more money being spent locally. I will have no hesitation in recommending that Cabinet endorses the progress to date and our plans for the future.”
Cabinet will be asked to endorse the progress of the project so far, and the proposed extension to the 1984 building, at its meeting on Monday 11th March.