Nearly 200 prospective buyers identified for Shire Hall, Cambridge as county council prepare to up sticks and move out to Alconbury

11th December 2018

Nearly 200 potential buyers – including those from hoteliers and care providers- have expressed interest in acquiring Shire Hall, Cambridge, the historic headquarters of Cambridgeshire County Council.

According to a report to go before the council’s commercial and investment committee on December 14, 181 inquiries about Shire Hall have already been received. Viewings taking place now and into the New Year.

The council says that “predominantly interest has been for hotel use, the retirement sector and student accommodation providers with a few having residential interest or office proposals”.

The county council is to move into a new purpose-built headquarters in Alconbury by 2020, vacating their current site in Castle Street in Cambridge, which has now gone on the market.

Agents Strutt and Parker describe Shire Hall as a “unique piece of real estate” and say it could be used as a hotel, office, homes, or retirement or student accommodation.

The six acre site at Shire Hall is owned by Cambridgeshire County Council. The decision to “dispose of” the Shire Hall site and relocate to Alconbury was agreed by full council.

A mix of developers, investors, funds and agents have since been approached to gauge interest in the site.

The report says the council would prefer to lease out Shire Hall rather than sell it outright in order “to obtain regular rental income as opposed to a capital receipt”.

According to the council, interviews with prospective buyers or people interested in renting Shire Hall will be held in January and February.

By mid-March, the successful bid should be chosen and the exchange of contracts is expected to take place in mid-2019.

Councillor Josh Schumann, chairman of the commercial and investment committee, said the council would still keep a “presence” in Cambridge.

“As a council we want to do whatever we can to protect vital front line services,” Cllr Schumann said.

“This is a unique opportunity for the council to reduce the overall cost of its property portfolio whilst supporting local services to become more sustainable.

“The council will continue to have a presence in the city and provide services to Cambridge residents. We will be seeking offers for Shire Hall from organisations that recognise the special heritage importance that the site has not just on the city of Cambridge, but for the county as a whole.

“We are using this opportunity to invest in the future design of the services we provide – local services supporting local people.”