RESIDENTS have been told turning New Town House and Quattro into housing following a demolition job will ‘reduce the risk’ of needing to build on green spaces.

The town centre building will be bulldozed after council staff move out next year, following approval by the Cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday.

Up to 1,200 employees based at offices in the site, The Base, Rylands Street, Museum Street and Contact Warrington will begin moving to the new offices in the heart of the borough from February 2020 as part of the Time Square scheme.

The Labour-run council says renting out or selling New Town House and Quattro were ruled out due to a lack of demand.

Cllr Hitesh Patel, Cabinet member for transformation, insists the authority is doing all it can to meet the Government’s housing targets.

But he acknowledged the ‘understandable’ concerns over ‘potential development’ in green spaces.

He said: “We have always said, as an administration, that is the last resort.

“I think what this proposal shows is by freeing up land in the town centre that is already in use and potentially opening it up for accommodation, reduces that risk of needing to go into green field land.

“The consultation is out on the local plan and, sometimes, the public don’t always see the different activities undertaken by the council and the administration to address some of our housing demand.”

Officers will now prepare a specification and procure a contract for demolition works to take place in early summer 2020, as well as for the creation of a public open space.

Furthermore, they will deliver a masterplan and development strategy for the New Town House, Scotland Road, Town Hill and Cockhedge area.

During Tuesday’s meeting, council leader Cllr Russ Bowden labelled it as a ‘strategic regeneration opportunity’.

He added: “With the progress of Time Square and development of the new council offices building in Time Square, the facilities at New Town House and Quattro are surplus to requirements.

“I think we always knew that as part of the plan.

“Our decision around the purchase of New Town House and Quattro was actually around making a cost saving to the council.”