Blackpool’s police chiefs have been handed a blank canvas as work began on the resort’s state of the art new headquarters.
The replacement for Blackpool’s crumbling Bonny Street police station will rise on an 11 acre site at Clifton Road, Mereside.
And officers are being promised a better working environment which should, in turn, help them keep the streets of the Fylde coast safer.
The investment is significant – a pot of £21m has been set aside for the project.
The land, formerly the site of Blackpool Council’s Progress House, cost £2m to acquire.
But with police facing a £14m bill to bring their current town centre premises up to scratch in the next five years, the Mereside scheme, was a no-brainer.
Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has given his full backing to the scheme.
He said: “It really is the dawn of a new era.
“We’ve been discussing this for what seems like forever.
“There has, for a long time, been the need for a new police headquarters in Blackpool.
“We looked at many different sites, I think as many as 23.
“But this really is the best one.
“This will not only be a new facility for Blackpool but it will serve the whole of Western division, stretching to Lancaster and Morecambe.”
Mr Grunshaw is delighted to be able to support local jobs and businesses during the construction phase.
He said: “We have it written into the contract that 20 per cent of the cost has to be spent in Blackpool.
“75 per cent has to be in the north west, most of that in Lancashire.
“We have signed up to provide a number of apprentices on the site.
“This is one of the biggest projects we have undertaken and it’s important to have the local community and businesses involved.”
Chief Superintendent Stuart Noble is the man in charge of Western Division.
It is the officers who work under him who will have to make the new headquarters work.
He believes the location and the open working environment will make a massive difference.
At the current Bonny Street headquarters teams are often several floors apart making working together very difficult.
The new open-plan environment will, for the first time in Blackpool, put community and response officers and detectives in the same space.
Chief Supt Noble said: “This is a milestone for us, a big step towards a modern police station for Blackpool.
“It’s a new, modern design that will encourage teams and individuals to work collectively.
“They will be sharing the work space and hopefully that means they’ll be sharing ideas, working more closely.
“That’s a far cry from what we have at the moment.
“There are lessons we have learned from Bonny Street, about how the building affects the way you work.
“Here we’re going to have a fantastic modern builing.
“We’ve got an ideal location, a base from which we can respond quickly across the division.”
Blackpool Police won’t be abandoning the town centre.
A new police post will be established at the municipal buildings in Talbot Square.
Mr Grunshaw said: “We will have a visible presence.
“It’s right in the centre of Blackpool, close to the main pubs and bars and the shopping streets where our officers are working.
“Our officers will be right there, where the incidents occur, where they can be of help to the public.”
The new police headquarters is likely to open in spring 2018.
And architect Mark Baseby of McBains Cooper, believes it will be a real boost for the area.
He said: “It’s a contemporary approach, it’s a modern building.
“We wanted something that would be striking, something that would reflect Blackpool.
“But at the same time we wanted to keep it simple, not provide something overtly lavish.
“It’s rare in the public sector to have such a large site to build on.
“It really was a blank canvas and we’ve really used it the best way we can.
“We’ve provided an efficient modern workspace for the police to use.”
The building will include office space, parking and a brand new custody suite, replacing outdated and dilapidated facilities in the town centre.
The site of the current police headquarters will open up opportunities for the redevelopment of Blackpool’s prime central station site.