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Hampshire police's £9.2m 'white elephant' could be sold off
THE £9.2m ‘white elephant’ building proposed for a new police headquarters in Hampshire could be on the verge of being sold off.
Alpha Park in Chandler’s Ford was controversially bought five years ago – at £3m more than it was valued - and was set to become home to more than 200 staff.
But the site has sat empty ever since while police authority bosses reconsidered what to do with it and whether part of the building should in fact be sold off.
Fresh plans were recently unveiled to once again use the entire site and transform it into a police campus housing a vehicle workshop, force enquiry centre and IT department.
Meanwhile Hampshire taxpayers have picked up a bill of almost £650,000 to cover security patrols, business rates and repairs costs even though nobody has ever worked there.
Now Hampshire’s new police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes has ordered a major review saying he is “concerned” about why it was bought in the first place.
Mr Hayes, who took up office last November when police authorities were abolished, said the force’s estate development programme, which has cost £83m, was now a priority.
He said: “It seemed to me, a review was particularly necessary in light of a changing policing requirement, and the responsibility I have to work in partnership with other organisations across the two counties to cut crime, reduce re-offending and support victims and witnesses.
“On first examination, I understand the rationale around the need to improve custody arrangements and the proposals to maintain safer neighbourhood teams in local communities.
“However, I remain concerned about the decision to purchase Alpha Park and I am questioning whether the building remains an integral part of the operational policing requirement.”
Mr Hayes said he was not yet made a final decision on the future of the building but he has now drafted in an independent advisor, Oona Muirhead, who will work with him to develop an estates strategy suitable for the future.
He added: “It is vital that we have the right estate from which to conduct our business and keep the public free from harm. It is expensive to create and operate, so the strategy must be right for the future.”