THE SALE of Warwickshire Police’s former headquarters at Leek Wootton has been halted and the site will once again become the force’s HQ – despite the county’s police chief saying it ‘no longer meets the needs of a modern police force’ last November.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe has put a stop to the sale and says the premises will be re-designated as the force’s headquarters in the future.
Announcing the sale four months ago, Mr Seccombe said Leek Wootton was too costly to redevelop, adding: “It doesn’t provide the modern facilities that our officers, staff and volunteers deserve.”
But cancelling the sale today (Monday April 1), he said: “Leek Wootton is a hugely valuable asset which contains good IT and infrastructure provisions and, although requires some refreshing, it is in a fit and suitable condition to support the force’s future estate needs.”
He said the sale was cancelled as a result of the decision last October by West Mercia Police to end the collaboration between the two forces, which will take affect from October this year.
“Given that we are now planning for a different future, we now need to plan and safeguard for the force’s future estate requirements,” Mr Seccombe said.
“While the exact operational model and requirements are under consideration, it is recognised there will be the likely requirement to accommodate additional officers and staff in the future in the county.
“With this in mind I have revisited our estate needs with the Chief Constable and it now makes absolute sense to keep Leek Wootton as part of our force estate.”
Chief Constable Martin Jelley said retaining the site would create the space for any necessary rebuilding of functions.
He added: “I fully support the Commissioner in taking this decision and believe this is an important resource to enable the force to deliver the best possible protection to the public.”
Money raised from the sale of the site, home to Warwickshire Police since 1949, was due to be pumped back into future policing budgets.
The site includes the Grade II listed Woodcote House, other former police buildings and surrounding grounds. Mr Seccombe plans to sell other parts of the Leek Wotton site not required for policing purposes, which will be marketed to prospective purchasers in due course.
The site is included for residential development within Warwick District Council’s Local Plan.
Mr Seccombe has been contacted for further comment and clarification.