FINAL plans for a refurbishment of the Civic Centre in Pontypool which aim to create “a modern working space” have been approved by senior Torfaen councillors.
The proposals aim to adapt the building to changes in working practices, with more collaborative spaces to accommodate hybrid working and fewer desk-based facilities.
The ground floor will also be revamped to provide a more welcoming and open-plan feel for residents, with changes to the security barrier and the location of the reception desk.
A refreshed members lounge will be provided on the second floor, while executive members’ offices will be turned into bookable meeting rooms.
Technology to support hybrid meetings will be installed, while all of the floors will be redecorated and have new carpets.
The third floor will have desk space for the handful of staff unable to work from home, while a coffee shop type area will also be created.
Meeting space will be provided on the fourth floor, along with individual booths.
The fifth floor will have a mix of meeting rooms and quiet workspaces, along with an area for a conference or training room.
A council report says the new carpets and the paint being used are from recycled materials, while existing furniture will also be reused in a bid to keep down costs for the project costing about £1 million.
At a Torfaen council cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Cllr David Daniels said the project was ‘needed’, adding council staff “deserve an up-to-date working place”.
“It has not had considerable works done to it for quite some time,” he said.
“We need to recognise that a considerable number of staff work here and spend a lot of their life here.”
A council report says the plans were “almost universally supported” during a consultation with staff and managers.
The main concern raised was about access to the facilities and the booking arrangements for meeting space.
Staff also raised issues around the heating system, with complaints about overly warm and overly cold areas in different parts of the building.
Radiators will be replaced as part of the project, though other works to the heating system will not take place due to it causing disruption.
Cllr Peter Jones said it was important to improve accessibility in the building to encourage a diverse workforce.
Councillor Anthony Hunt, council leader, said 99 per cent of people working at the Civic Centre are not elected members, but staff providing services such as social care, education and financial support.
The work is expected to start this month and be completed by early autumn.
There will be some disruption during this time for residents, councillors and staff, but the building will still be accessible.