A POLICE force’s plans to build a £15million headquarters have taken another step forward.
Durham Police Authority has been granted planning permission to build its new base on land next to its existing site at Aykley Heads in Durham City.
The move will allow the current site to be sold for housing. It is expected an estate with 227 two to five-bedroom homes will be built there.
That plan has also been given outline planning approval by Durham County Council.
The police authority has said the cost of the new building will be “substantially funded” by the proceeds of the sale of the land.
The new complex is expected to be in use by spring 2014.
The decision by the council also includes moving the listed communications mast to the new development.
Peter Thompson, chairman of the authority, said: “I am very pleased that the county council has granted planning permission for the new headquarters, relocation of the mast and residential housing.
“This represents several years work by members and staff of the authority and staff from the constabulary.
“The new building will be more efficient to run and is expected to save £750,000 per year and will be energy efficient, unlike the current headquarters building.
“These savings will help us maintain an effective policing service to the people of County Durham and Darlington.
“The police authority was sensitive to people’s views regarding the future of the communications mast and we are happy to relocate it.
“In relation to housebuilding on the existing headquarters site, this will also give a welcome boost to the construction industry and local economy.
“This is a really exciting time for the authority and our constabulary and clearly demonstrates our continued commitment to value for money, community safety and service delivery.
“This is on the back of crime continuing to fall, high detection rates and good levels of customer satisfaction.”
Residents had raised concerns about the impact of the new headquarters, with issues raised including problems with traffic, loss of open space, effect on house prices, disruption during construction and the loss of land for the charity Bonﬁre Night event.
However, council officers said the plans are in line with policies and would not have detrimental effect on neighbours.
They also said it would improve the operation of the police force and enhance community safety.