Northamptonshire Police has revealed it is planning to buy more land in Kettering as a north-of-the-county headquarters.
Any new building in Kettering, which would be next door to a new custody and investigation centre, is reckoned to be two years from completion, by which time the location of the remainder of staff at Wootton Hall - itself set to become a school in 2016 - should be known.
Police and crime commissioner Adam Simmonds has authorised the Chief Constable to acquire the additional 3.7 acre site.
Chief Constable Adrian Lee said: “We are currently carrying out a thorough review of the whole Northamptonshire Police estate, with the aim of providing a modern, 21st century estate that best meets the current and future needs of policing in the county.
“When we purchased the land for the Police Investigation Centre (PIC), we secured the option to buy additional land on the same financial terms, enabling us to realise the financial benefits of buying a larger site.
“With future policing needs in mind, I have recommended to the police and crime commissioner that we purchase this land and explore the options for a new operational base for the north of the county.
“In spite of the financial challenges, we have not closed any police stations in the county and we are committed to retaining police bases in Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Rushden town centres, even though the condition of the existing buildings means they are inefficient and old; any changes will take place through negotiation with partners and consultation with the public.”
Mr Simmonds has previously made it clear that the current headquarters at Wootton Hall are out-dated and not suited to ‘21st-century’ policing. Controversial plans for a new free school to take over the Wootton Hall site have also been lodged with the Department for Education, with a previously-stated opening date of September 2016.
The force announced plans to buy additional land on North Kettering Business Park next to land currently being developed for a new custody and investigation centre.
The force is already trialling different ways of providing a local policing service. In Northampton, the public enquiry counter at Campbell Square police station was re-located to Northampton Borough Council’s One-Stop-Shop at the Guildhall earlier this year.
Mr Simmonds said: “The Chief Constable and I have a responsibility to ensure the police estate is fit for purpose and enables officers and staff to provide the best possible service to the people who live and work in and visit our county.
“Acquiring the additional land at Kettering gives us scope to improve the existing estate and ensure it is flexible enough to cope with current and, most importantly, future demands in the north of the county.”
Planning permission for the new Police Investigation Centre was granted in February this year and the purchase of the 2.4 acre site was agreed in March.
Plans will now be considered for the additional land.