COUNCIL bosses say major plans to redevelop six sites and move its headquarters will save more than £300,000 a year.

As part of the Rochford District Council plans, the Freight House, in Rochford, is set for an overhaul.

The 1890s building is currently used for social events but the proposals will see it developed into offices for council staff as well as a new chamber for council meetings and a community space.

However, concerns have been raised by residents’ groups.

The scheme also focuses on the Mill Arts and Events Centre, in Rayleigh, which is currently used as a venue for hire. Under the proposals, its ground floor will be used as a community ‘hub’.

The Civic Suite, in Rayleigh, where council meetings are currently held, and the authority’s main offices, in South Street Rochford, will be either redeveloped for residential purposes or an alternative use.

Numbers 19 and 57, also on South Street, will be used for residential purposes.

Keith Hudson, deputy leader of Rochford District Council, said: “The council offices are uneconomical, the building is inappropriate for that use. The Civic Suite and the Freight House are often underused.

“These plans make sense, it will save the council running costs, which will keep tax down for residents, the buildings will be operating efficiently, and it will provide accommodation for community use.”

The plans, which have had outline approval, have been met with mixed reaction.

Adrian Eves, from the Rochford District Residents and Green Group, said: “I wonder if the project is more for the council than the residents? Once it gains momentum, I think it’ll raise a few eyebrows. I disagree with the business plan, which I made clear in full council.”

Members of the public and stakeholders will be engaged throughout the process and it’s anticipated that the project will be completed by 2023.

George Ioannou, Rochford District Council’s enterprise boss, said: “It is important to ensure the council is maximising the value we get from our assets, in order that we can continue to provide a high-quality service for generations to come.”

The public will be kept abreast of the plans, which could be completed by 2023.