PLANS for a new Monmouthshire council headquarters in Usk have been approved.

The planning committee granted the council planning permission to redevelop the Rhadyr site, used by Coleg Gwent, into an office building that will be known as the Democratic Centre.

The authority must leave its current home at Cwmbran County Hall by March 2012 as the office block has concrete cancer.

Outline planning permission for the site between Little Mill and Usk was granted in October last year for a two-storey 3,500 sq metre building and a 200 space car park at a cost of around £18million.

But the new proposals are a scaled-down version of the original plans, with a reduced cost of around £8million, after a bigger headquarters was scrapped on cost grounds.

Designs include a two-storey 2,645 sq metre building in two wings, linked by a glazed area.

The ground floor will feature a glazed atrium at its entrance, open plan offices, conference and meeting rooms. A bridged link over part of the glazed area will provide informal seating on the first floor together with the council chamber, members and chief executive offices and open plan offices for 100 to 120 work stations.

The roof will be made of aluminium and have natural lighting and ventilation, incorporating traditional and contemporary material.

The site will have parking for 172 cars, of which 50 will be for Coleg Gwent, on the former garden centre and three existing buildings will be retained and four demolished.

Coleg Gwent will retain its headquarters.