£21m for police headquarters

The current police headquarters in Bonny Street, Blackpool.
The current police headquarters in Bonny Street, Blackpool.
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A MULTI-MILLION pound new police headquarters looks set to be built in Blackpool.

The move to replace the current station in Bonny Street – dubbed no longer fit for purpose – could also kickstart a further phase of regeneration in the town.

Police chiefs say the tower, built in the early 1970s, is approaching the end of its life.

And they hope to replace it within the next four years.

They are proposing to set aside £21m towards the new home for Lancashire Police’s Western Division, which covers Blackpool and Fylde.

A site has yet to be chosen but town hall bosses want it to be built as part of the resort’s new Central Business District.

Moving from Bonny Street would also free up land adjacent to Central Station car park for leisure schemes.

Plans for a snow dome at the site are still on the table.

Lancashire’s Police’s director of resources Ian Cosh told The Gazette: “Plans to replace and relocate Western Division headquarters at Bonny Street have been under consideration for some time as part of the regeneration of Blackpool town centre.

“The current building is simply costing too much to maintain and isn’t fit for what we need operationally for the future so it has now become a business need to deal with the building and invest in a new station.

“Proposals have been put forward to build a new divisional headquarters and these plans will be presented to the police authority this week.

“If supported the project would be developed over the next four years, although no site has yet been earmarked for development.”

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A report to today’s meeting of the Lancashire Police Authority says the “existing building is approaching the end of its life and is becoming increasingly obsolete in terms of physical condition, functionality and technical services”.

There is £5m already in the capital budget, with another £16m being proposed to be put in over four years, making a total provision of £21m between now and 2016/17.

The money would come from Government grants, capital reserves and borrowing.

The report adds even “significant major investment in the existing tower block will not provide a building fit for purpose due to the site constraints and deteriorating structural elements.”

John Donnellon, Blackpool Council’s service director for built environment, added: “We’re working with the police to make sure we get the best location for them and ideally that would be the Central Business District. That would help us carry forward options for the Central Station leisure area.”

Mr Donnellon said the council was still in talks with developers in connection with a possible snow dome scheme on the 20 acre Central Station site – where Bonny Street station is currently located.

Wigan-based Greenbank Partnerships has been working on a scheme since October 2009, which would include an indoor ski attraction, an entertainment complex, hotels and retail use. As well as the police station, the law courts are also located on the site.

It has previously been proposed for the courts also to relocate.

Construction work is due to begin this year on the £220m Central Business District to redevelop the area around North Station.

A Sainsbury’s supermarket, new council offices and the refurbishment of the Talbot Road multi-storey car park all having full planning permission.