Plans for new Merseyside Police Headquarters unveiled

Merseyside / September 07

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has agreed in principle to build a new police headquarters on a key gateway into Liverpool.

Following a year-long evaluation of all the options, Jane Kennedy’s preferred choice for the future of Merseyside Police headquarters is to develop a new purpose-built headquarters on a site on Scotland Road in Everton ward.

Even by conservative estimates, building a new headquarters will be £780,000 cheaper than refurbishing the existing police headquarters in Canning Place. A more efficient and environmentally-friendly new build headquarters will also be £380,000 a year cheaper to run and maintain, helping the organisation to save £15.5m compared to the cost of keeping Canning Place over the next 40 years.

The new headquarters will consist of a four-storey building with a single-storey annex, housing nearly 850 officers, PCSOs, and staff in largely open-plan offices, as well as providing meeting rooms, a lecture theatre and break-out spaces. It will be located on a predominantly brownfield site, largely owned by Liverpool City Council and bound by Scotland Road, St Anne Street and the approach road to the Queensway tunnel. It is also adjacent to the Force’s existing St Anne Street site.

The announcement comes after a detailed and extensive study to identify the most cost-effective and efficient solution to address the existing issues around Merseyside Police’s current headquarters in Canning Place, which was built in 1977 and is in urgent need of essential repairs and maintenance work.

As part of this process, the Commissioner asked each of Merseyside’s five local authorities to identify any potential sites for the development of a new police headquarters. The 13 sites put forward by the councils were assessed and scored alongside an additional 31 privately-owned sites identified by the Force and their external consultants. The top five of these sites were then evaluated in more detail, with the Scotland Road site being identified as the best possible alternative to Canning Place.

A further independent feasibility study was then carried out to compare the costs and benefits of carrying out a major refurbishment of Canning Place against developing a purpose-built site on Scotland Road. It has always been understand that maintaining the status quo was not an option.

Jane said: “It has been a complex and thorough process to get to the position where I can make this decision today. Extensive evaluations have been undertaken which confirm that building a new headquarters on Scotland Road is the most effective, efficient and economical way to ensure that Merseyside Police is able to tackle crime and protect our communities now and for years to come.

“Sadly, I have no option but to act - Canning Place has been a loyal servant to the Force over the last 40 years and there is no doubt it boasts a good location, but it is now of an age where expensive repairs and maintenance work are urgent and essential.

“It is old, inefficient and its structure and layout are no longer fit for purpose. The lighting and ventilation are poor and the car park needs major structural work. Simply put, it is not in a fit state to serve the men and women who put on the uniform every day.

“Building a new headquarters is the common sense approach to ensuring that officers, PCSOs and staff have the right environment and facilities to serve our communities. Not only is it cheaper to build a new police headquarters than to refurbish the existing building, it will also be cheaper to run and be fit for modern ways of working.

“This is a long-term investment which, over the next 40 years, will save the Force more than £15.5m in comparison to undertaking a major refurbishment of the existing premises in Canning Place. All being well, a new build will also be ready six months faster, hopefully opening its doors in May 2020.

“There is already considerable commercial interest in the Canning Place site. By selling it, alongside Allerton Police Station, we hope to recoup up to £9m towards the cost of the new development. It will also open up that part of the city for further regeneration.

“Today’s decision is just the first step in a long process. We still need to obtain planning permission and, if that is agreed, we will then purchase the land in Scotland Road. We believe this is the right step to take at the right time to save Merseyside Police vital funds and ensure the Force is equipped in the best possible way to fight crime for decades to come.”

Merseyside Police Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: “The new building will provide a headquarters for the force, that’s modern and fit for the purpose of policing Merseyside.

“In any decision made, our communities come first. The new site offers the most economical way to ensure we are able to continue serve the communities of Merseyside for years to come.”

Building a new headquarters, including purchasing the land, will cost £44.63m, but, even by conservative estimates, this figure is reduced to £35.58m through the sale of Canning Place and Allerton Police Station. It will also allow a number of smaller, leased buildings to be vacated.

This compares to a total cost £36.36m for the refurbishment of Canning Place, including the expense of a ‘double move’ which would be required to temporarily move all staff to an alternative location before moving them back once the work is completed

Further yearly savings of £380,000 will also be made on the running and maintenance costs of a new build headquarters in comparison to refurbishing Canning Place. The new headquarters will also be designed to increase efficiency through open-plan working and hot-desking, improving performance and work flow.  Also included within the plans is a multi-storey car park with a total of 578 spaces to ensure there is no impact on the access or parking needs of nearby residents and businesses.

Following today’s decision, the Force’s estates and facilities team will work with public sector-owned built environment specialists SCAPE and Wilmot Dixon to design and plan the entire process up to the point of starting work. It is intended that a submission for planning permission will be submitted in May 2017.

If approved, it is expected that work will begin in January 2018 and be completed in May 2020. Included within the proposals are a number of social value targets, including 600 weeks’ work for apprentices and student workshops for nearly 700 people.

The development of headquarters is a key element of the Commissioner’s strategy to transform the Force’s stations and buildings over the next 10 years to provide better facilities and save £2.5m every on the annual running costs which can be directed into keeping officers on the beat.

Today’s decision comes after a meeting of the Police and Crime Panel, the body which scrutinises the Commissioner’s work, at which she updated them on her plans.