Plans for a new temporary police station in Barnstaple are moving forward despite the coronavirus lockdown.
The former Barum Auto Parts premises in Seven Brethren has been identified as a potential site to accommodate officers, staff, volunteers, a public front office and a custody centre.
Detailed plans drawn up and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is now ready to submit a planning application following discussions with prospective landlords and North Devon Council.
Under the proposals most officers and staff would be accommodated at the Seven Brethren site, while some specialist staff would be relocated to offices at Roundswell.
The new site is expected to be suitable for three to five years, giving time for the OPCC to investigate the possibility of building a new, bespoke station serving North Devon.
Superintendent Toby Davies said the prospective base will give the police a ‘strong, visible presence’ in the town centre.
He said: “We have been working hard to identify suitable options that could be delivered within the challenging timescales.
“I am hugely appreciative of the high level of support and flexibility shown by partner agencies in North Devon which has made this task all the more easier.
“The old Barum Auto Parts building is well placed to respond to the demands of our area and provides a strong, visible presence within the town centre. This site will include a public enquiry office and provide an accessible means of contact within an area of high footfall.
“The Seven Brethren site does not have quite enough space to house all of our policing functions, so we will be relocating some of our specialist functions to the Roundswell site. This site is pretty much ready to go and will meet the needs of those policing functions.
“Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic I am confident that we will be able to make this move happen without there being any noticeable impact on the service we provide for our communities.”
Commissioner Alison Hernandez said: “We still have a significant amount of work to do on this important project but I am hugely reassured by the amount of progress that has been made in a short amount of time, and while everyone involved has the additional challenge of coronavirus restrictions to deal with.
“I spent time in North Devon recently, talking to potential partners, and am in regular contact with councillors who have been in touch about this matter. I would like to thank them, and everyone who is working on this project, for their support. We will, of course, be keeping our communities informed as the project progresses.”
The OPCC has sought and received the help of public sector partners in progressing the move rapidly, notably North Devon Council.
The council’s leader, Councillor David Worden, said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to help and support our local police by providing them with this accommodation. We’ve always had a positive working relationship with them and this will only cement our partnership working further. I wish them all the best in their move to their new premises.”