Work is under way to erect the new facility at the force’s Middlemoor headquarters. The building replaces one that had to be closed at short notice after it and the adjacent swimming pool structure were found to have structural issues.
The closure came as the force embarked on the biggest uplift in officer numbers for generations, and police trainers who would have used the sports hall for physical training exercises had to find alternatives.
Now Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez, who owns the police estate, has said enabling works are nearing completion and the new sports hall should be completed in spring next year.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s estates department is working with Exeter City Council’s planning department to achieve internationally recognised environmental standards for the £2.6m development.
The swimming pool and sports hall at Middlemoor and a police station in Barnstaple, North Devon, were found to be affected by a structural problem with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) beams that exists in many public sector buildings around the country and urgent works were necessary to remove the risk.
The Devon and Cornwall Police estate is owned and managed by Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez. She said: “This project has been complex in its nature because the site is surrounded by existing buildings that will remain as part of the finished complex.
“Once complete, however, it promises to set new standards in terms of quality and environmental impact. I would like to congratulate the estates department for swiftly responding to the RAAC issue, which they have led the way on nationally, and progressing first the project to replace Barnstaple’s police station and now the sports complex.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the force’s learning and development team, who despite being without one of their principal buildings and facing a global pandemic of epic proportions, have managed to recruit new officers at an incredible rate, meaning we are on track to have record officer numbers of 3,610 officers in Devon and Cornwall this financial year.”
As with the £29m Exeter Police Station at Middlemoor, which opened in 2020 and replaces the Heavitree Road site, the sports hall contract was awarded following a rigorous procurement process which will ensure that wherever possible the contractor will use local sub-contractors, thereby boosting the local economy.