Plans to formally turn parts of Ceredigion County Council’s now under-used £15m offices in Aberystwyth into a health centre will be decided upon by planners on Wednesday.
After agreeing to a temporary hybrid working model in 2021 – that saw hundreds of desks at Canolfan Rheidol remain empty as staff stayed away to work from hom – the council launched discussions on what to do with the empty space.
The council entered into an agreement to hand over parts of the building temporarily to Hywel Dda University Health Board for outpatient physiotherapy clinics while it “develops a longer term plan for the empty space in the building.”
While clinics and health functions have already been performed at the building, a formal change of use application will go before the council’s Development Control Committee on 13 September as the council’s Cabinet approved a plan to make hybrid working permanent in Ceredigion.
The application says that 390 square metres of the building will be taken up by Hywel Dda, with the application seeking to change the use of parts of the ground floor and first floor from offices to a health centre.
The plans would see rooms used for treatments and consultations as well as meeting and staff rooms.
Planning documents said: “It is acknowledged that a portion of CCC staff are working remotely and utilising a hybrid working pattern, entailing a mix of office based work and home working.
“The reduction in the number of staff operating a full-time office based role has meant that at some points the office building is under occupied.
“The new use will ensure that the building is utilised to its full potential, without having to build a purpose built building to house the health centre.”
Announcing the partnership earlier this year, Alison Shakeshaft, Executive Director of Therapies and Health Science for Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to enable the health board to bring clinical services closer to home for residents in the north of Ceredigion, complementing the health board’s strategic vision to bring services closer to local communities and to support them to live active, healthy lives.
“The health board will deliver a range of multi-generational services from Canolfan Rheidol, including an outpatient musculoskeletal physiotherapy service, clinics for patients living with lymphoedema, multi-disciplinary therapy services for patients who are frail with the risk of falling, and paediatric therapy services.
“Our teams are excited to be moving into this fantastic facility and to work in partnership with Ceredigion County Council on this journey towards more integrated ways of working.”
The plans are recommended for approval by council planning officers.