Adam Simmonds, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, has today announced the beginning of a public consultation on new plans for the estates of Northamptonshire Police, which includes a proposal to leave the Wootton Hall Park site in a phased exit over the next two and a half years.
The PCC has this morning published his revised Estates Strategy Document that governs decisions around all land owned and leased by the Police and Crime Commissioner, which sets-out plans to save £40million over the next 25 years through more cost-effective buildings and facilities.
The proposal to leave Wootton Hall has been put forward following an extensive appraisal of the advantages and disadvantages of Northamptonshire Police remaining at the current headquarters, which has taken in to consideration on-going financial constraints, the implications of new modern ways of working and the integration of back office services with other forces and emergency services.
Public consultation on the strategy will begin today at both here at www.northantspcc.org.uk – where all relevant documents can be viewed – and at www.NorthamptonshirePoliceEstatesStrategy.co.uk, and will end at midnight on 7th February 2016, after which a final decision will be made on adoption of the proposed plans. Alternatively, members of the public can take part in the consultation by contacting the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner on 01604 888113 to request the relevant documentation.
Proposals for the future of the Wootton Hall Park site – which is jointly owned by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Northamptonshire County Council– provisionally include the sale of part of the site that includes the buildings which currently comprise part of the Police Headquarters to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) for the creation of a new school, providing a fitting legacy from the years the land has served the police and public of Northamptonshire.
If following the consultation process the proposals are acted upon, the Police and Crime Commissioner and the County Council have agreed to work together to jointly bring forward the wider site for development in order to gain the best deal for the tax-payer. However, at this stage no decisions have been made on the site’s future and all options remain open, including retaining part or all of the site.
In order to provide the facilities needed by the force, the draft strategy also proposes that a new Police Investigation Centre (PIC) providing custody provision for the north of the county will be built in the Kettering/Corby police district. A decision on a further building adjacent to the PIC will be taken in March and will be informed by this consultation.
Further talks are also planned between the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner and the Commissioners of Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire around shared services as part of their commitment to a strategic alliance, that will also effect estates decisions.
Adam Simmonds, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said:
“Although the intention to leave the established Northamptonshire Police Headquarters at Wootton Hall may appear controversial to some, it has been a very straight forward decision – due to new policing models and ways of working it is simply not cost effective for Northamptonshire Police to remain at the current site.
“The move away from Wootton Hall will see us consider multiple locations for a number of smaller bases, meaning the force can be more visible, contactable and mobile to residents of the whole of Northamptonshire, not just those in the immediate vicinity of the current site.
“The Chief Constable and I are both equally committed to delivering a cost-effective, first class police service for Northamptonshire, where we see a more agile, flexible and visible policing presence”
Simon Edens, Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, added:
“Policing is changing and it is likely to keep changing, at a faster pace, in the future. Northamptonshire Police needs the right type of accommodation, in the right places, to allow us to meet current and future needs so we can continue to protect people from harm and serve our communities.
“I am not satisfied that all of our current buildings are fit for purpose so I am pleased to see the launch of this consultation on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s draft estates strategy.
“I welcome the chance to contribute to it and provide him with my professional advice on the force’s operational requirements.”
Cllr Matthew Golby, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for learning, skills and education, commented:
“As the authority responsible for strategic school planning, we would support any proposal that will help to deliver the new school places required by Northamptonshire as a growing county.
“We are working closely with the free school provider Northampton Free School Trust and with Northamptonshire Police to make sure the timetable for this project supports the force’s own plans concerning its estate at Wootton Hall Park and operational policing.”