Fife Council is refurbishing the City Chambers in Dunfermline in order to improve services and reduce costs.
Alistair Hutton, Architectural Technician at Fife Council, explained the development to Premier Construction:
“The project has come about because the council is going through an office rationalisation programme to try and reduce the number of properties it maintains. The City Chambers has been selected as one of the properties to be retained due to its historic nature.
“We are trying to refurbish the space to make it more useable and fill it with as many people as we can while retaining the historic aspects of the building.”
The £1.2 million project began in April 2012 and it is due to be complete in November 2012, after which a second phase will start to refurbish the roof and undertake various stone repairs.
The main contractor was the building services division of Fife Council.
“One of the main functions was to introduce a local office service, who act as the public facing element of the council. From the public point of view, all the main council services, for the Dunfermline area, will be centralised in this location within the high street in Dunfermline, so it should be much easier for people to access the council.
“We’ve opened up quite a large area for various council departments to move into and attached around ten interview rooms which will be used by a local office and social workers to conduct their interviews/consultations. We’re also going to reintroduce the local councillor accommodation in the form of offices and back offices.
“The final thing we’ve done was to bring in a comfort break scheme. This is a council initiative to provide publically accessible toilets in high demand areas such as high streets, and provides more disabled facilities.”
The build is now in the final construction stages including floor coverings, wall finishes and few minor alterations. Previously the building had been used as an office and provided accommodation for both councillors and some council services – but it was vastly under-utilised.
“In terms of the building fabric we have essentially started again as far as the services go. We have done a full re-wire and re-plumb of the building. The systems were archaic and needed to be refurbished.
“It also serves quite a significant civic purpose. All the committee meetings are held in the City Chambers as well as wedding ceremonies and other events.
“What we’ve done is retain the main historic features, identified in the planning process. The only part of the building we’ve really had a major impact on is the main reception which has been redesigned to suit the new layouts inside. We’ve tried to incorporate some of the historic panelling features and remain true to what was there before.
“We have a corporate standard that we like to achieve for the local offices and we’ve tried to incorporate that into this building in a subtle way. It doesn’t look like a modern office block when you go in – it still looks like a historic building and it’s very apparent that it is a historic building, which is what we wanted.
“The project has been about trying to utilise the building as much as we can and give it value in the community again, rather than it being an empty building sitting on a high street. We are bringing a historical building back as a focal point for the community.”