The 1960s-built tower block has been empty since 2016

The long-term future of Barnstaple’s empty civic centre could finally become a bit clearer in 2018.

The tower block, which used to house North Devon Council, Devon County Council, the BBC and HM Courts and Tribunal Service, has been empty since 2016.

After exploring options for marketing the site, building owner Devon County Council (DCC) has said it hopes to agree a plan for developing the site by summer.

The council is currently working with North Devon Council (NDC) and the Environment Agency to find the impact of a Flood Risk Assessment.

The civic centre in Barnstaple. Picture: Matt SmartThe civic centre in Barnstaple. Picture: Matt Smart

Staff at NDC – which owns the land the site sits on - left the centre in 2015.

DCC followed suit in 2016, moving 250 staff into the adjacent annex building after a £2million refurbishment.

A spokesman for DCC said: “DCC are working closely with North Devon Council to discuss options for the future use of the Civic Centre building within the current planning framework, and the Environment Agency to ascertain the impact of the Flood Risk Assessment for the site.

“Following the discussions with North Devon Council and the Environment Agency a plan for developing the site will be put together which we hope will be agreed by summer 2018.”

The Civic Centre in BarnstapleThe Civic Centre in Barnstaple

County councillor for Barnstaple North, Brian Greenslade, said he welcomed the progress DCC appear to have made, and hoped the site wouldn’t be allowed to become a ‘blot on the landscape’.

“I get asked from time to time by residents what is happening to the Civic Centre complex,” said Cllr Greenslade.

“If the owners Devon County Council have made some progress with the future of the building and intend to announce something later this year, I welcome this and I am sure many others will do as well.

“This area of Barnstaple by the attractive river side obviously can become an important feature in the regeneration of Barnstaple and cannot just be allowed to become a blot on the landscape. If progress is being made, great!”

NDC’s move from the 1960s-built tower block came after more than 40 years at the site, saving them what was estimated to be £300,000 a year.