Police station plans
A LONG-awaited scheme to redevelop a key part of St Albans city centre is finally moving forward. For years the district council had looked at redeveloping the Civic Centre south area occupied by the police station, in Victoria Street and Hertfordshire Ho
A LONG-awaited scheme to redevelop a key part of St Albans city centre is finally moving forward.
For years the district council had looked at redeveloping the Civic Centre south area occupied by the police station, in Victoria Street and Hertfordshire House behind it.
It has now been revealed that Herts Police Authority is holding talks with developer Antringham Verulamium Limited which wants to turn the police station into a retail, office and leisure complex.
In return for the building, the developer is offering to construct a new downsized police station in the complex which would house the same number of frontline officers, including detectives, along with Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
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Police administration staff are to be moved to a new centralised headquarters in Hatfield when it opens in August which would leave a lot of unused space in the current police station.
Police insist the change would not mean a reduction in frontline officers, of which there are about 30, or the 20 PCSOs.
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The district council has been in talks with Antringham for the last 15 months about developing the area.
As part of the proposals, the parties have discussed redeveloping the health clinic, owned by West Herts Primary Care Trust (PCT), into part of the suggested retail complex. A new health clinic would then be built inside the complex by the developer.
There are also proposals for a 96-bedroom hotel on the site of Hertfordshire House which Antringham purchased in September last year.
St Albans planning portfolio holder Cllr Chris Brazier said he had had two meetings with the developer about the plans.
He added: "The police station has not been bought yet. The police will give quotes to the developer. The developer would give them office space and car parking in the complex as part of a pro-rata exchange."
Tim Blairs, managing director of Antringham, said that Cllr Brazier was very keen to redevelop the Civic Centre south but there were disagreements with planning officers who wanted the development to be between two and five-storeys tall.
He admitted that it had been a frustrating 15 months because his company had not been able to agree on a design for the retail complex or the hotel with planners because of the height restrictions they wanted to impose.
He said: "The police need a no-cost solution but the question is, is their building worth to us what is would cost us to re-house them? If we can only build a two-storey building then it is not."
A spokesperson for Herts Police said that they were undertaking a review of the police station in line with a strategy which aimed to improve access to police services and visibility.
He added: "We are looking for the best option for a new police station in St Albans. The new station will contain key services such as intervention/response officers, St Albans Neighbour-hood Team, local detectives, PCSOs and a public-inquiry office. We are confident services will remain the same and there will not be a reduction in the number of frontline officers patrolling in St Albans."
A spokesperson for the PCT said they had been approached by a developer on a very informal basis about redeveloping the clinic but they had no firm plans at this point.