Crown Buildings work ‘within budget’ and ‘progressing well’ as 625 staff set to use it as town centre base
A new health and well-being hub that will eventually house hundreds of council workers is set to open next spring.
Redevelopment works on Crown Buildings in the town centre have been ongoing for several months, with both interior and exterior undergoing major refurbishment.
Plans to develop the four storey building, on the Bodhyfryd site, were unveiled last year after the office block was described as no longer being fit for purpose.
Built in the 1960s the property has seen many council staff moved elsewhere over the years due to issues – such as leaks – in the building.
However once complete the office accomodation on floors one to the three will house the majority of staff from the council’s social care (adults and children’s combined) and education and early intervention departments – with staff moving into Crown Buildings from Lambpit Street, Greenacres and those in temporary accommodation at Redwither Tower.
The ground floor will house a “state of the art town centre Community Health and Well-being Area, known as the “Wellbeing Hub”.
Wrexham Council say that this “will result in greater co-location of social care and education and early intervention staff”.
It is expected that the facility will be open to the public from April 2022.
The project is being delivered jointly by Wrexham Council, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and AVOW (Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham) with the help of funding from the Welsh Government.
On Wednesday members of the council’s safeguarding, communities and wellbeing scrutiny committee will be given an update on the progress of the redevelopment.
A report due before councillors notes that the “renovation work is progressing well and is on programme to finish by the end of November 2021, within the allocated budget, based on the current position.”
Furniture providers will be on site throughout December, with staff starting to move into the building from January through to February 2022 in a phased approach, with the building working at capacity, subject to Covid restrictions, by March 2022.
An estimated 625 staff – Wrexham County Borough Council and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will use Crown Buildings as a base, with about 268 desks available for use at any one time, (subject to covid restrictions) along with a range of other workspaces.
The offices are set to consist of flexible working space, which the local authority says will help to “embrace the council’s move to Modern Ways of Working and will enable employees to work in a flexible way, with a mix of home working, being out and about on visits across the County Borough, as well as being in the workplace.”
In terms of how this would work, the report says: “The types of workspaces include breakout areas for collaborative working, PODs for 1-1 or small group discussions and quiet space, desks with monitors for longer periods of desk work, meeting rooms with video conferencing capabilities and staff recreation space.
“The variety of workspaces within Crown Buildings are designed to suit the needs of the teams working from there, with a principle that space is allocated to activities rather than individuals, for example to a single point of access function or a duty function.
“Requirements for a fixed desk space and additional equipment will continue to be agreed on a case by case basis between a manager and individual, based on need and accommodated within the work space.”
The well-being hub, which will be on the ground floor, is described as providing “facilities which would allow local organisations to run a variety of both formal and informal, co-produced, sessions, activities, training and so forth from there.”
The report adds: “The Wellbeing Hub is a new multi-agency space that provides integrated community, health, social care and third sector preventative activities and alternative solutions to care and support in a safe environment, with accessible facilities, for all ages and abilities. It compliments existing service provision, covering physical health, mental health and wellbeing.
“It will be run in a co-productive way with a mix of paid staff from different organisations and sectors and volunteers, creating a strengths-based ‘community asset’, under the direction of a multi-agency Steering Group comprising representatives from BCUHB, WCBC and AVOW. The Wellbeing Hub supports the principles of A Healthier Wales 2018, the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015 and the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014.
“The Wellbeing Hub Steering Group have considered a range of alternative approaches for running the facility and after-market testing identified no suitable external providers, it was agreed that the facility will be managed through a collaborative approach by WCBC, BCUHB and Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham (AVOW), with WCBC as Host organisation, for a minimum of two years, after which a decision will be taken whether to explore the external market again.”
“Work is now underway to develop the Wellbeing Hub Operational Business Plan and staffing/volunteer structure, followed by recruitment, with a view to the Wellbeing Hub opening to the public from April 2022, with a phased opening approach over six months.”
The report will be considered by members of the council’s safeguarding, communities and wellbeing scrutiny committee on Wednesday (8 December). The meeting will also be webcast live on the Wrexham Council website.
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