Controversial £8.3 million Voreda House Opens its Door to the Public

Westmorland and Furness Councils new office in Penrith, Voreda House, this morning opened to the public for the first time.

The £8.3 million pound Voreda House opened following the closure of Penrith Town Hall on Friday with all staff now transferred from the town hall and mansion house into Voreda House.

After a few final checks to the door by council staff, at 9am with no ribbon cutting or official opening ceremony the automatic door glided open allowing the public to now access the councils customer service with the reception at Voreda House that is open 9am–5pm Monday to Thursday, and 9am–4.30pm on a Friday.

Residents will also be able to carry out self-serve online tasks in the reception area, such as applying for blue parking badges, checking bin collection information or viewing and commenting on planning applications.

Todays opening of Voreda House marks the end of the controversial project started by the former Eden council that has seen costs more than double, long delays and delays to completion from the original planned opening date and resulted in the split of the former independent group of councillors on Eden Council over the plans and seats on planning committees in order to ensure the approval of the plans for Voreda House that were originally refused by the planning committee in 2021 because the councillors and officers believed the “design and appearance of the development would have a detrimental impact upon the character of the street scene and the area, contrary to Policy DEV5 of the Eden Local Plan and the NPPF.” And “The development would have an adverse impact upon neighbouring residential amenity, contrary to Policy DEV5 of the Eden Local Plan.”

The refusal led to the independent group of councillors who firmed a key part of the administration of Eden council splitting with the former deputy leader of Eden Council Mary Robinson ejecting 5 members from the independent group she was group leader of in order to replace the members of the planning committee with members who would approve the plans.

Just two months later plans were approved with new members on the planning committee despite a number of objects and concerns over the design and plans.

Then 5 months later plans again had to be submitted after it was discovered the original plans to Clar the building in Lazonby sandstone would have crushed the structure leading to a lightweight cladding redesign that has seen the building now likened to a Lego block building.

In November 2023 Westmorland and Furness Council began an internal audit review into the delivery of the Voreda House project that was due to be completed in February 2024. The audit itself has also now been delayed with no set date for its completion and publication.

Questions have also been raised by Evolve Penrith who have opposed the councils plans for Voreda House since they were first proposed, about the council’s compliance with its planning approval that had a number of consultations attached including one that required “Prior to the occupation of the building, a BS4142 Method for rating and assessing industrial and commercial sound shall be undertaken by a competent noise consultant and submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The standard that must be achieved is a difference between the rating level and the backgrounds level of less than 5dB. Where considered necessary by the Local Planning Authority measures, for example acoustic shielding or louvres, to ensure compliance with this standard will be specified with the report. The assessment will need to cover all times of the day when noise may be produced. Thereafter, the development will be undertaken in accordance with the approved assessment and any required mitigation measures. Reason: In the interests of protecting the amenity of neighbouring residential dwellings.”

Westmorland and Furness Council have been approached for comment to clarify if the planning condition was carried out or not as no record of the discharge is available on the councils own planning portal. 

National Headlines
National and International News Headlines...
Add Penrith.Town App. Press Then select "Add to Home Screen"