Discussions continue on the future of the Civic Centre
The Civic Centre needs to be more accessible and integrated into Esher High Street
Possible development of the Civic Centre in Esher is the catalyst for Elmbridge Borough Council to consider how we can enhance Esher High Street. The Civic Centre and the surrounding car parks are part of Esher High Street but they seem very separate. To establish Esher as the civic heart of Elmbridge, the Civic Centre needs to be more accessible and integrated into the High Street; it needs to serve its employees, as well as its residents and contribute to the vitality of the high street.
The move to hybrid working practices has been adopted by companies globally, and Elmbridge Borough Council is no exception. We need a smaller workspace with fewer desks, more collaboration space and a building that is sustainable – both financially and in terms of its carbon footprint.
On 8 February, Elmbridge Cabinet approved the next phase of work on the future of Esher’s civic square.
Working with our partner, Urban Vision, we know a future civic square in Esher needs to have office space that is both fit for purpose and adaptable, it needs to be as carbon neutral as possible, have space for partners such as Surrey Police, Esher library and Citizens Advice and of course it needs to be financially sustainable. Connectivity to the high street is also important, as well as having car parking to meet the needs of the high street, while also establishing more active travel routes to promote walking and cycling. A civic square can also include affordable homes and green spaces to add vitality to the high street.
This is the potential being considered for the Civic Centre in Esher, but more work is required to establish the best way forward, including hearing from residents and business through the Esher visioning consultation proposed for February and March.
The report to Cabinet on the future of the Civic Centre recommended agreeing to commission a detailed report estimated to cost £100,000, to develop and cost out proposals to either retain the Civic Centre and develop surplus land or to develop a new Civic Centre which will accommodate our partners, plus develop surplus land on the site.
It has never been more important for Esher to come together to discuss and debate its future. Development of a civic square can support a vision for the town that enhances the lives of our residents, that encourages enterprise and business and that attracts visitors wanting to be part of this vibrant town centre.
Cllr Mike Rollings, Portfolio Holder for Finance & Resources
Watch the Cabinet webcast.
Read the Cabinet report