PLANS to build a new headquarters for Essex Police have been scrapped, the county’s crime panel heard yesterday.
Essex police and crime commissioner Roger Hirst told the panel that the costs of relocating to a new site would have been too expensive and would have saddled the service with debts it would have struggled to meet.
In lieu of a new headquarters, the commissioner is now looking at the possibility of renovating part of the western portion of the current headquarters, while also selling off land on the eastern side that could accommodate as many as 450 homes and a new primary school.
Mr Hirst told the panel: “There is a huge potential to renovate A block, improving older buildings and putting in some suitable infrastructure in the right places.
“You then have the eastern portion of the site, which has got train works, garages, sport facilities, and a sport ground – but we think that is not a facility we need.
“We need to make sure we extract the best value – my interest is making sure we provide the best police and fire and rescue service we can.”
On the decision to scrap plans for a brand new HQ, Mr Hirst said: “When I was elected back in May 2016 there was an outline estate plan which involved a substantial consolidation of the policing estate on a single site north of Chelmsford with large amount spent on new build.
“I saw then and can see now the attractions of a modern work environment but I can also see the disadvantages. Partly the cost, which was going to be well outside EPS’s ability to raise money.
“The amount of investment required on that new build was going to mean we would not have the money to invest in modernising working practices.
“I could not see the ability of the service to sustain the level of debt which would have had to be taken on, nor indeed would it have been appropriate for the community to have majority of policing concentrated on one site which they probably would have had less requirement to leave.”
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