Oxford

Council arson attack site 'could become care home'

The offices Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Andrew Main admitted setting four fires in Crowmarsh Gifford and Rokemarsh at council offices, an undertakers and a thatched cottage

Local authority offices devastated by an arson attack could be sold and used for retirement apartments.

The headquarters of South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils in Crowmarsh Gifford were gutted on 15 January last year.

Andrew Main, 47, from Rokemarsh, admitted starting the blaze and has been detained in a mental health unit.

The estimated cost of repairing the damage was £20m and about 400 staff are working from other sites.

South Oxfordshire council leader John Cotton said care housing is one option being looked at for the site.

Money raised from the sale of the land could also be put towards building a new headquarters.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The burnt-out wreckage of a car that ploughed into the council building moments before it caught fire was found in the foyer
Image copyright Ian Negus
Image caption A total of 27 fire crews tackled the blazes, which were started within 10 minutes of each other shortly after 03:00 GMT

He said: "We are right at the beginning of the process and no decisions have been taken. We have had a look around to see what the possibilities might be for the site.

"There's a real shortage of extra care housing in South Oxfordshire, and if we were to sell it for housing we'd want to make sure it was used for the kind of thing the rest of the market isn't delivering.

"So it would be one of the things we would look at."

Mr Cotton said any decision on the site's future would probably have to wait until after a decision is made about devolution in Oxfordshire.

He added, if South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district council became a unitary authority with more responsibilities, they would need room to expand.

Both councils are temporarily based at Milton Park in Abingdon after signing a four-year lease.

Image caption About 400 council staff are either based at the building in Milton Park or work from home

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