Tameside MBC to consider move from TAC Building to cheaper premises

Much noise has been made about the ConDems’ cutbacks disproportionately affecting the North West. In a bid to alleviate much of the pain inflicted on public service delivery, local councils have been forced to find cheaper or more energy efficient premises. It was revealed in this week’s Tameside Advertiser that Tameside MBC have considered a move from the TAC Building, to new premises on Old Cross Street. Its proposed premises will be the site of the Swan Street car park, hitherto the site of the Phoenix Market Hall, and a temporary building for Ashton Central Library.

The building costs £1.7 million to run, and has a three year backlog of outstanding repair work. Demolition would cost £2 million.

The TAC Building (Tameside Administrative Centre) opened in 1981, replacing a hotch-potch of facilities around the borough. It was built on the site of terraced housing and included a Presto supermarket along with smaller shops looking towards the bus station. The top floor would originally accommodate a computer suite, but miniaturisation meant only half the space was required for the then new microcomputers.

The Presto supermarket became a Wilkinson store in September 1992. Refurbishment of the store also led to the creation of a new main entrance, with the entrance shifting from Wellington Road to the Open Market end of Katherine Street. The reception was refurbished, becoming an In Touch customer contact centre, with entry to Setantii and the Tourist Information Centre, moved from Market Street. Setantii opened in 2002, with a second museum based on the Longdendale Reservoirs.

In more recent times, the small shop units have become extra office space, as the construction of The Arcades Shopping Centre nullified any trade from them. Warrington Street became a wind tunnel, less conducive to shopping. Since 2010, Tameside lost its Tourist Information Centre; both Setantii and its Water Museum were mothballed.

Future Uses

It is proposed that the site would be allocated for housing, retail or educational uses. Demolition and redevelopment would have to be undertaken in a sensitive manner, complementing the town centre’s listed buildings. Furthermore, demolition work will also prompt the relocation of Wilkinson’s store. Its most likely future home could be Marks and Spencer’s store on Ladysmith Shopping Centre, with their move to Ashton Moss allowing the Worksop based chain to become a future tenant.

The Council Offices never won prizes for architectural beauty. Even so, it is an identifiable landmark for miles around the borough, or passengers alighting or boarding at the nearby bus or railway station. Here lies great potential for high quality public space, giving bus, rail, tram and taxi passengers an attractive approach into Ashton-under-Lyne. This should be the subject of a design competition and allow for the erection of a new entrance leading to the Museum of the Manchesters and a reinvigorated Setantii should the time arise. A few hastily erected shop units or flats would make for a missed opportunity.

Supposing they fail to demolish the TAC building (if for example, Wilkinson objects to its demolition), there is scope for redevelopment into privately owned office blocks. This could take the form of a single occupancy, or as serviced office units with Small to Medium Sized Businesses. Or, again in multiple occupancy, as – radically – a base for artists’ studios and non-profit enterprises.

Whatever happens, our borough wouldn’t be the same again without its 31 year old council offices. The new base would be less convenient for bus, tram and rail access, though there’s every chance it will be constructed to the latest energy conservation standards and cost less to run than £1.7 million per year. And the walk to Wetherspoons may be slightly longer.

S.V., 25 October 2012.

11 thoughts on “Council Offices Set for Move to New Location

  1. Yes, but how much will it cost to build the new offices?
    The TAC building, as you call it, has always been known in my family as The Monster Sausage Tree, a name fashioned for it by my son some 36 years ago, when has grandfather called it a monstrosity.

    Like

    1. Hi Buspilot,

      I love your family’s nickname for the TAC building. Answers to the question as to how much Son of TAC would cost: £5 – 20 million, according to the Manchester Evening News and the Tameside Advertiser.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      Like

  2. The College want to move to the centre, why don’t they do a swap.
    The building apprentices could get hands on experience repairing the building and the ever decreasing council staff could move to Beaufort Road. Simples

    Like

  3. Too simple Mike! It begs the question does simplicity register with our councillors? And what’s wrong with Hyde and Dukinflield Town Halls? They are massive buildings, each surely less then 10% occupied!

    Like

    1. Hellos to Mike and Keith,

      Mike: I love that idea, but you would still need to keep the engineering workshops and some of the other specialist classrooms on Beaufort Road. Basic Skills courses and academic subjects which demand less specialist facilities could move to TAC (which could be Tameside Ashton College). Furthermore, the number of students placed there could add life to Ashton town centre. Besides the refectory, they would buying dinners at Chris’ Café, McDonalds, Pound Bakery and the like; the indoor and open market would prosper; as for public transport access, miles better than at Beaufort Road (rail, bus and forthcoming Metrolink trams).

      I would assume that part of the college could be demolished to allow for a new base, but transport access is nowhere near as good as Ashton-under-Lyne town centre [with TAC]. Hence the case for a new base on the site of the Swan Street car park.

      Keith: I would love to see more facilities from TAC move to Dukinfield and Hyde Town Halls. This would take us full circle; before 1981, Tameside MBC’s departments were scattered around the borough’s town halls. For example, the Environmental Health department was based at the (now demolished) Stalybridge Town Hall. Also, Dukinfield Town Hall is in the geographical centre of Tameside, but public transport access is nowhere near as good as Ashton-under-Lyne or Hyde.

      Lakes Road School (with the 1930s buildings renovated) could have been a good alternative home for Tameside MBC, but that was demolished to finance the refurbishment of Dukinfield Town Hall and the Jubilee Hall.

      Byes for now,

      Stuart.

      Like

      1. Hi Stuart – Yes, of course Hyde and Dukinfield Town Halls are not particularly well served by public transport – but, counter to this, Ashton centre is not convenient for those travelling by car unless they want to spend on car parking. Also, counter to that, residents in Hyde and Dukinfield and the other towns, who want to do business with the council, and travel by public transport, are likewise not well served surely!

        It’s also true that originally, each Town Hall, when the towns were separate, had all the relevant departments within it. Subsequently, and after Tameside came into being, de-centralisation was the buzz word. ‘Out of the centre’ local offices were created – they didn’t last for long and I don’t think many, if any, exist now. I think the excuse for that was that much business would be transacted via the internet. Anyone who has queued at TAC, just to get to see someone or to get some information, will say that a large percentage don’t have, or don’t want to use the internet. I have internet queries which remain outstanding from May 2010 because they are ignored constantly. Calling in at TAC is far from convenient, car user or not, so what is the answer? Surely the answer is to put a small staff for each department in those largely unused buildings with one of them housing senior staff, who the hoi polloi don’t need to see, at the centre. Isn’t that going to be more convenient for everyone? It would enable us to be rid of what my family call TAC, the Dustbin – or TCO as our road signs mysteriously call it.

        TAC has become an ivory tower where those with the ability to make decisions do their darndest to make it as difficult as possible whilst they shelter behind the receptionists and security staff. Like Topsy, the need for ever larger buildings and facilities just ‘growed and growed’. Sure, many council jobs have gone, with more to go – and now TMBC suddenly find the place is too big – Were all the incumbents of those jobs needed? ‘Housing’ used to be on half a floor in TAC – New Charter built a monstrosity!

        I would say that, apart from alterations to the mainly unused buildings that remain we could cut the cost of £5 -£20m – not to mention my earlier forecast of £30m.

        You know, I’m an awful cynic but I wonder about plain brown envelopes! Just wonder – not accusing!

        Like

  4. Hi Keith,

    I don’t think any of the local offices exist as such, but the closest thing to the Local Offices I’ve seen is in the former Central Girls School in Stalybridge. That is up for sale with some functions transferring to the Civic Hall nearby (I don’t know what’ll happen to the police post though). Other than that, I would say the closest examples would be in Oldham. Besides its monolithic civic centre, there are ‘District Town Halls’ dotted around the borough, such as one in Greenacres behind the former Co-op store on Huddersfield Road.

    When the computer centre was planned for TAC, computer systems shrunk from mainframe to desktop size, rendering that room superfluous for its original use. Likewise the centralisation/decentralisation trend you noted. When New Charter’s offices were built, little did we know at the time they were going to expand beyond their traditional boundaries inherited from the original Housing Department. Even so, residents still think of New Charter as ‘Council’, though NCHT is a company in its own right – and one which has been lauded as one of the Sunday Times’ Top Ten Best Employers in the UK.

    Bye for now,

    Stuart.

    Like

  5. TMBC have almost succeded in killing off Ashton permanently. Its 1 remaining flagship store has gone, there is an ugly new shopping centre which hasn’t fully worked, a tired old 1960’s precinct which is well past it’s best and a rebuilt market hall which has totally lost the character of the original. The TAC is truly awful & completely dominates the town and is totally inadequate as a building now – during the day almost all the lights are on & no doubt either the air con or the heating is working flat out to provide some basic comfort for its occupants. TMBC should take up the challenge & move away from the site and replace it with something that will bring people back into the town.
    By the way – I used to pass through the town centre either going to or from school or going to work. I now live in Glossop where shops are currently 97% occupied & big retailers such as M&S, Peacocks, Argos, Next, Iceland, Wetherspoons etc. have invested in the town.

    Like

    1. Hi Adrian,

      It is interesting to know that in a retail health survey, Ashton-under-Lyne was the fifth most vulnerable town in the UK to competition and other external factors. As to whether Tameside MBC has almost succeeded in killing off Ashton, I would say that notion is simplistic.

      Firstly, the original precinct [Ladysmith Centre] on opening in 1967 competed against instead of complemented against the town’s main asset, which was Stamford Street. Had the latter been the case, the multiple stores would have remained there. Stamford Street would have remained a shopping area with direct access to further shops via Delamere Street leading us to the bus station. Perhaps Wellington and Wood Streets could have formed an attractive focal point accessed from Stamford and Old Streets.

      As the units were smaller than more recent shopping developments and more expensive, the multiples – M&S included – quit the town centre for Snipe Retail Park and Ashton Moss. Hence the opening of the Arcades Shopping Centre, though that was a mere papering of the cracks left by out-of-town retail. Which, I have noticed has had at least one or more empty units since opening in 1995.

      I definitely agree with you on the loss of character to Ashton Market Hall. I missed the different walls from each extension and the cosiness. It looks cold, lacks atmosphere and antiseptic. Somewhere in the way of progress, a degree of traditionalism and respect to the town’s heritage has been lost, and the character seems to be diluted. Something which Glossop has respected, even with the same multiple retailers as Ashton-under-Lyne, and the imaginative development of its retail park off Surrey Street.

      (As you can tell I have strayed somewhere from the original subject). To me, TAC, though more modern than Oldham’s Civic Centre (built between 1965 – 1979) seems to have aged faster. I loved the late 1970s – early 1980s decor in the reception, but the new reception is more claustrophobic.

      I agree with the fact that Tameside MBC should move to new premises, but I hope that both the new building and the area where TAC is is dealt with respectfully. One thing is that TAC ticks all the boxes for bus, bicycle, train and (from next Wednesday) tram connectivity, and I doubt as if Wilkinson would want to move in a hurry, unless they’re eyeing the former Marks and Spencer unit.

      Returning to the Marks and Spencer unit, I believe that asbestos has delayed any prospective leasers from moving in. However, I did hear somewhere that Primark is set to be the next tenant, though this is not definite.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 8 years on … what a sorry state Ashton is in now. I held a certain fondness for TAC. It’s replacement might be more ecologically sound but is an even worse monstrosity. It looks like something from a dystopian science fiction film. it completely dominates and obscures the sightlines. Horrible. Now the town centre is such an unwieldly shambles it lookes like it was put together by rival teams of blind insane architects, placing buildings at random constructed from whatever they happened to have handy. How many buildings in town sprout foliage, in the manner of the deserted capitol building in Logan’s Run? (Which reminds me – I too was a great fan of the late 70s early 80s decor in the old reception. Dark brown and biege takes me back in time and warms the heart). Stamford Street is sadly apocalyptic, though I recommend several excellent charity shops with pleasant staff.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s