Police to quit Bonny Street in multi-million pound deal

A multi-million pound deal will see Blackpool’s police headquarters move out of the town centre - paving the way for long-awaited development of the Central Station site.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 16th July 2015, 12:14 pm
Bonny Street Police headquarters in Blackpool
Bonny Street Police headquarters in Blackpool

Lancashire Constabulary is set to buy the former Progress House in Marton site from Blackpool Council for £2.2m in order to build a new police station there.

The council will purchase Bonny Street police station for £3.2m which will be a major step forward in assembling the Central Station site for future investment.

The deal concludes a decade of negotiation to facilitate development of Central Station – but it is 50 years this year since the old railway hub closed.

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Demolition of Progress House on Clifton Road

Bonny Street station will be leased back to the police for up to five years until their new base is ready to move into.

The council will also lease out space in the town hall to the police in order to retain a town centre crime-fighting team.

This revenue will be ring-fenced to help fund the cost of buying Bonny Street station, although funds will also be borrowed to meet the expense.

Income from the sale of the Progress House land on Clifton Road will go towards the cost of the new council offices at Bickerstaffe Square which opened last year.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “I am delighted that this sale has progressed so quickly since staff left the Progress House site in September.

“If the executive approve the recommendations the site will be sold for £2.2m. The business case for the Talbot Gateway Central Business District has always been based around the sale of other office accommodation and money gained from this sale will be ring-fenced to finance that project.

“The sale of Progress House to Lancashire Constabulary has also created an opportunity for us in the town centre. It is no secret that we have been speaking to developers for years about the Central Station site.

“Unfortunately the one sticking point that keeps coming up is that the police station is in the middle of a potential development site.

“It makes good business sense for us to purchase Bonny Street Police Station and to fund the purchase by renting space to the police in the Municipal Buildings.

“We want to ensure the police retain a town centre base and we are in a position to rent them office space that we no longer need.”

It is 50 years since Central Railway Station closed with the land being used for a car park ever since.

It was proposed as the site for the super-casino until that bid failed to win government backing.

Since then plans for an indoor snow-based attraction have also failed to make any progress.

One of the sticking points has been the need to relocate the police station and law courts.

The latter remain where they are for the time being but it has been proposed previously to relocate the courts to the Talbot 

A £21m pot of cash has been set aside by the police for the relocation of the police station since 2012, after warnings the Bonny Street building was coming to the end of its useful life.

It was revealed in March this year that the police wanted to move to the Progress House site, but details of the costings were revealed today in a report to the council’s executive which will meet on Monday to consider the scheme.

Clive Grunshaw, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire said: “Constabulary officers have worked with the council to identify the best locations for the future divisional HQ and town centre premises and I am really pleased that this proposal is being put forward for approval.

“It is no secret that Bonny Street Police Station needed replacing and I think the decisions we are making about the future will be the right ones.

“Money has been set aside for this development and I am sure it will benefit the whole of the west of the county when it is complete.

“Officers are much more mobile now and in Blackpool officers have been piloting mobile technology to support them in their work and this will no doubt have a number of benefits for the town as we go forward.”

A report to councillors says: “The council has been negotiating with the police regarding their move away from Central Station site for almost 10 years to facilitate the development of the area and make any proposal more viable.”

Demolition of Progress House was completed at the beginning of this year.