Baldock police station sold for housing

A HOUSING development will be built on the high street site of a town’s former police station.

Yesterday (Wednesday), social landlord North Hertfordshire Homes (NHH) confirmed it has bought the former Baldock Police Station, which has stood empty since May last year.

Kevin Thompson, chief executive of NHH, said: “We are delighted to have recently acquired the old police station on Baldock High Street.

“We are now working on a range of options to see what type of housing we can provide there.

“We want to make sure that what we build positively enhances the look of this important Baldock location.

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“We will be consulting with council planners and residents during the summer, and hope to be able to submit a planning application in the autumn.”

NHH’s portfolio includes more than 8,000 homes for rent, including more than 800 sheltered homes for older people.

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Baldock Police Station, having served the public since the 1960s, closed in May last year due to the force facing a �36 million budget shortfall over four years.

Since its closure, officers have been based at the station in Letchworth GC.

In March this year, the Comet reported fledgling plans for a police base at Baldock Community Centre on Simpson Drive, and on Friday Hertfordshire Police Authority gave the green light to advance these proposals.

Ian Knighton, chairman of the Baldock Community Association, which leases the centre from North Herts District Council (NHDC), said the deal hinged on confirmation that the police will pay to enhance some of the facilities, such as the entrance.

“We have been in negotiations for some time,” he said. “It’s part of our plan to reinvigorate the community centre.

“We have been working with the police with a view to them leasing a room from us which they would kit out for themselves.

“We are hoping we will have the base up and running by the autumn, which is good news all round. It adds another dimension to the community centre and will give the police presence back in the town again.

“I think local people will be very pleased.”

Baldock’s town centre manager Murray Fastier said: “It’s brilliant news. It will be fantastic to have a police presence return to the town.

“The community centre is the best place – right in the middle of town. It’s perfect.”

As owners of the building, the council said it will need to review the established lease requirements and financial implications of any proposals.

“It is also important the needs of existing users of the centre are considered and, if the police move in, suitable workable arrangements for the future management of the building and parking are put in place,” said Cllr Tricia Cowley, NHDC’s portfolio holder for community engagement.

Hertfordshire Police’s deputy chief constable, Heather Valentine, said: “The constabulary must continue to find ways to make efficiency savings over the next few years as it deals with reductions in police budgets.

“The review of estates is one way the force is exploring and actioning efficiencies while safeguarding frontline policing and keeping Hertfordshire a low-crime county – a hostile place for criminals and a safe place for everyone else.”

While there will be no front counter services, it will be advertised when officers are in the community centre and not on patrol and people will be able to drop in with any issues.

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