Willmott Dixon to build £45m police HQ

Contractor Willmott Dixon has been selected to design and build a 117,000 sq ft headquarters for Merseyside Police on council land in Scotland Road, North Liverpool.

The contract was procured through the Scape public sector procurement system. Willmott Dixon northern managing director Anthony Dillon said: “This follows similar schemes we’ve done recently in Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle and South Wales where police forces are looking to create a better working environment for their teams, plus make better use of property by putting all resources into one giant facility. Long terms it will save millions in running costs for the forces.

“Also, it continues our proud recent record in Liverpool with the academies at Notre Dame, Archbishop Beck and Archbishop Blanch. There will be a big focus on supporting local companies and sustaining jobs.”

The announcement of a new headquarters ends years of speculation that the force would exit the city centre for modern premises in a less congested location. The Canning Place HQ was built in 1977. Grosvenor held lengthy talks with Merseyside Police during planning of Liverpool One but ultimately acquired only the apron of land at the front entrance of the HQ for siting the new bus station.

Developers will be offered the site for acquisition as part of the relocation but it remains to be seen whether the timing is too late for this development cycle as the force does not expect to finish the new base until the middle of 2020, subject to planning approval. The current site faces the bus station and back of Hilton hotel which could obscure views and dampen prospects for the site, extending to 2.5 acres.

Jane Kennedy, police commissioner, said a year-long selection process had examined 13 council-owned sites across the five boroughs and 31 privately owned sites before deciding to relocate to Scotland Road.

The other shortlisted sites were:

  • Pall Mall
  • Liverpool Waters
  • Wirral River Streets
  • Knowsley Community College

Kennedy said the “new HQ will be £780,000 cheaper than refurbishing the existing police headquarters in Canning Place. A more efficient and environmentally-friendly new build headquarters will also be £380,000 a year cheaper to run and maintain, helping the organisation to save £15.5m compared to the cost of keeping Canning Place over the next 40 years.”

The new headquarters will consist of a four-storey building with a single-storey annex, housing nearly 850 officers, PCSOs, and staff in largely open-plan offices, as well as providing meeting rooms, a lecture theatre and break-out spaces. Also included within the plans is a multi-storey car park with a total of 578 spaces to ensure there is no impact on the access or parking needs of nearby residents and businesses. The architect is Ryder.

The development site is largely owned by Liverpool City Council and bound by Scotland Road, St Anne Street and the approach road to the Kingsway tunnel. It is also adjacent to the force’s existing St Anne Street site. The rest of the land is owned by North Liverpool Regeneration Company and a firm of solicitors.

Kennedy added: “There is already considerable commercial interest in the Canning Place site. By selling it, alongside Allerton Police Station, we hope to recoup up to £9m towards the cost of the new development. It will also open up that part of the city for further regeneration.

“Today’s decision is just the first step in a long process. We still need to obtain planning permission and, if that is agreed, we will then purchase the land in Scotland Road. We believe this is the right step to take at the right time to save Merseyside Police vital funds and ensure the Force is equipped in the best possible way to fight crime for decades to come.”

Further yearly savings of £380,000 will also be made on the running and maintenance costs of a new build headquarters in comparison to refurbishing Canning Place. The new headquarters will also be designed to increase efficiency through open-plan working and hot-desking, improving performance and work flow.

A planning application is scheduled to be submitted in May 2017. If approved, work could begin on site in January 2018 and be completed in May 2020.

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