WORK has begun on a multi-million pound project that will eventually become a one-stop shop for a host of council services in Bromsgrove, including the new library.

A special sod-cutting ceremony took place on Tuesday, March 18 at the former Parkside Middle School site on Stourbridge Road, which as well as being home to the new library will house the Bromsgrove Customer Service Centre, the local registration service office and the local Job Centre Plus office.

The £6.9 million project is a joint enterprise between Worcestershire County Council and Bromsgrove District Council, with the Parkside site chosen as the most suitable following a review of public sector buildings and redevelopment opportunities in Bromsgrove town centre.

Bromsgrove District Council leader Roger Hollingworth said: “This is an important stage of the Bromsgrove Town Centre Regeneration Programme and follows last month’s High Street improvements getting underway.

"When Parkside is finished it will join the other success that we have seen in the last couple of years, which include the police and fire station and the medical centre.

"This demonstrates that by working together, we can utilise and develop the town’s historic buildings to benefit residents, businesses and visitors.

"It will really revitalise the area, increase the number of people on the High Street and go towards building a better Bromsgrove like we have always promised.”

Once the building work begins it will consist of two main elements: the refurbishment of the existing building, with an approximate floor area of 2,400 metre square, and an extension with a floor area of about 1,350 metre square. It will provide office accommodation for both county council and district council staff.

The existing building has a Grade 2 listed status and the project design team has worked closely with English Heritage and the district conservation officer to ensure that the plans have been developed sympathetically to their surroundings.

Worcestershire county councillor Anthony Blagg said: "I'm delighted to see work starting on the Parkside site as I have been championing development here since initial discussions in 2005.

"The Parkside project is a great example of two local authorities working collaboratively to identify opportunities to rationalise and share public sector buildings.

"The building will house a number of services and make it easier for local people to access these in a single location.

"The project will also contribute to our property savings targets by releasing assets for sale, reducing operating costs and delivering revenue savings."

Capital costs and risks will be shared equally between the county and district councils after a development agreement for the capital procurement of the project was reached, while Job Centre Plus is also contributing a small sum towards the capital development and is committed to a 10-year licence for occupation.

The capital receipts generated from the release of capital assets on completion of the redevelopment are estimated to be in the region of £3,680,000.

Thomas Vale Construction has been appointed as contractor on the project, as part of the £180 million West Midlands Contractor Framework.