New police headquarters project is back on track after delays

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The steel frame for the new £ 48million Merseyside Police Headquarters is now in place as development appears to have gathered pace. The ambitious plan to create a new headquarters on land off Scotland Road was hit by delays last year due to complications.

Although building permit was granted in 2018, developers could not begin work until legal agreements were reached with tenants and businesses at the St Ann Street site.

A number of buildings on the site, including a training academy, had to be demolished before work began.

Merseyside Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy last year spoke of her “frustration” with the lack of progress at the site during negotiations.

But despite the delays last year, developers Willmott Dixon have now told ECHO that they are on track to complete the project as planned next September.

The main steel work on the building is now in place, meaning that the final stage of construction can now begin.

Both Commissioner and Police Chief Andy Cooke signed the final piece of steel in a ceremony in June to mark the end of the main construction phase of the project.

More than 1,100 officers and staff will move into the new 12,800m, four-story complex when it opens in September next year. The force foresees that the building will be a flagship on the main entrance gate in the heart of the city.

The background

On October 1, 2014, Merseyside Police unveiled an ambitious new plan to transform their estate with a 10-year £ 130million investment plan.

The plans, which followed a public consultation, promised to create community police stations across the city, protect police jobs and save £ 2.5million each year.

The consultation raised the question of whether the force should continue to be based at Canning Place in the city center or move to a new building.

The CCP suggested that the force should consider leaving Canning Place, and the Liverpool council proposed a site off Scotland Road.

In the fall of 2016, the PCC agreed that the site should be the preferred option for the new headquarters.

Over forty locations in Merseyside were considered before the Scotland Road site, next to St Ann’s Street Police Station, was chosen.

Although the council owned part of the site, it did not fully own it. A training company based on the site had a lease and a law firm also had offices there.

The council then had to enter into complex negotiations with the tenants in order to acquire the leases.

At the time, the council noted the extremely complex and time-consuming nature of the demolition of the existing building and the remediation of the land.

Canning place

Ms Kennedy was blunt in her description of the downtown building as “no longer fit for purpose” with poor lighting and ventilation.

Merseyside Police will no longer use Canning Place after moving into their new complex off Scotland Road next September.

Canning Place, which opened in 1977 and now occupies prime land across from the waterfront, is expected to be sold to a developer.

A 2017 Liverpool Council report reads: ‘Following the relocation of Police HQ, the current HQ site in Canning would be surplus to police needs, thus creating the opportunity for a new historic waterfront building and a major development plan linking the Albert Dock / Kings Mooring Area in Liverpool One and the retail district with associated job creation. ”



Merseyside Canning Place Police HQ based on The Strand in Liverpool Photo by James Maloney

Funding

The new headquarters was financed in part by capital specifically earmarked for force buildings and in part borrowed from sources approved in accordance with the Prudential Code of Capital Financing.

It is also hoped that a large portion of the cost of the new seat will be recovered through the sale of Canning Place.

Ms. Kennedy said building the new headquarters was more efficient than renovating Canning Place.

Back on track

Ms Kennedy said: “” What an achievement. Last September the Chief of Police and I were here to ‘turn the first turf’ on what was a large muddy field but in a fantastic location, overlooking Liverpool city center and the River Mersey. .

“Less than nine months later, and despite the complications caused by Covid-19, this impressive structure has come to life, acting as a proud guardian of this key gateway to the city.

“We are now a big step forward towards the completion of a whole new much-needed Merseyside Police Headquarters.

“This new headquarters is visible proof of the determination the Chief of Police and I share to provide the officers and staff of Merseyside Police with the best facilities we can afford, to help them tackle crime. now and in the future.

“Canning Place opened in 1977 and has been a staunch servant for 40 years, but unfortunately it is no longer suited to its needs and is very expensive to operate.

“The force needs modern facilities and equipment that will make them more effective and efficient.

“This new headquarters will do just that, saving around £ 250,000 per year in running costs over the existing headquarters, while helping the force continue to protect our communities for years to come.

Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: “It’s amazing how the building has progressed over the past eight months and I know the officers and staff are excited to be moving to the new premises in September of the year. next.

“It is vital that we have a building that is fit for purpose, profitable and efficient.

“This new headquarters will help us provide officers and staff with modern and sustainable facilities and equipment, which is essential to maintain our ability to provide effective and efficient service to the people of Merseyside.

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Anthony Dillon, Managing Director of Willmott Dixon in the North, said: “We are proud to deliver such an important and historic project for Merseyside Police.

“Ensuring that Merseyside Police Headquarters is future proof for the changing complexities of modern policing is critical and it will be a quality and cost effective environment that will serve officers, PCOs and staff for years.

“We share a commitment to leaving a positive and lasting legacy in the communities and economies in which we work, which has enabled us to invest £ 23million of our project spending to date with local businesses based less than 20 miles from the project.

“The safety of our on-site teams on site remains the top priority for us and reaching this milestone under the current circumstances is a testament to the strength of the relationships and collaboration between our team, the force and all of our local chain partners. supply.

“Over the past few months, the entire site team has been at the forefront of adapting and innovating new ways of working and adopting technology to ensure the safety of everyone and to move forward towards the completion of the project. ”

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