Commissioner Alison Hernandez, whose programme of reopening ‘front desks’ across the force area will see 12 reopen before April next year and 17 in total, has contact between police and the public as a cornerstone of her strategy.
The ageing station complex in Exmouth’s North Street includes a disused magistrates court and a mothballed civil defence shelter. It is occupied by officers but currently members of the public cannot enter without an appointment and maintenance costs over the next 25 years have been estimated at more than £3m.
The plans would see the 0.4 hectares of the site sold for redevelopment and a two-storey building built on 0.2 hectares of the site. The new station would be built to the BREAM Excellent standards, meaning it is within the top 10% of new buildings in terms of environmental standards.
Funding for the project was approved at June’s meeting of Devon and Cornwall Police’s resources board.
The station will be the operational base for about 60 officers and staff including response officers, neighbourhood officers, Police Community Support Officers, and Special Constables.
The Commissioner’s estates team is preparing to seek expressions of interest from contractors who may be interested in submitting a full tender for the project.
As with police projects in Exeter, Liskeard and Barnstaple, contractors will have to demonstrate a commitment to using local tradespeople.
Commissioner Hernandez, who owns and manages the force estate, said: “This project makes sense from every angle. Exmouth is Devon’s largest town and sees a huge increase in its population in the summer months. The teams based there, and the community they serve, deserve a station which is fit for the 21st Century, less harmful to the environment and cheaper to run.
“As with other police station building projects, I am insisting that a significant proportion of the public monies that we are investing in this project go to local people so that money benefits the local economy. The release of brownfield development land means additional housing can be provided in the town without greenfield sites being developed.”
She said improving public access to the force was a ‘non negotiable’ part of the project, adding: “When I carried out a public survey to determine which of the 58 possible locations the public would most like to see, a police enquiry office opened once again in Exmouth came eighth. People love the idea that they can walk into a station and talk to a real human being to report crime, receive advice on crime prevention and seek help for victims, so there is no way I am going to miss the opportunity to give this town back its front desk.”
Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew, Force Lead for Local Policing said: “Our officers and staff are part of the local community, and this investment supports them to achieve this. They need a modern base to ensure that we deliver a local service that is effective and accessible to our communities. We are all looking forward to this development taking shape.”
Simon Jupp, MP for East Devon, said; “I am really pleased Exmouth’s new police station has taken another step forward with multi-million-pound investment planned in the town. The new state-of-the-art station will be open to the public with a dedicated front desk which I know is important to residents in East Devon.
“After successfully campaigning to reopen Honiton police station to the public, I’m delighted to see progress across the district. Working with the Police & Crime Commissioner, I’m determined to improve visibility of the police and make our town centres and streets safer.”
The Commissioner will now be working with the local community to engage them with plans before a formal application is submitted to East Devon District Council.