New police HQ plan

Durham Police Headquarters, Aykley Heads.

Durham Police Headquarters, Aykley Heads.

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PLANS for a new police headquarters and neighbouring housing estate are being submitted to council chiefs.

Durham Police Authority and its force are seeking the go-ahead to build a new base, which it says will be “fit for 21st century policing”.

Mr James Callaghan, Home Secretary visits Durham Jail.'May 1968 old ref number 36-4696

Mr James Callaghan, Home Secretary visits Durham Jail.'May 1968 old ref number 36-4696

Full planning consent is being sought for a three-storey building at Aykley Heads, Durham, on a site opposite its existing buildings and next to the Rivergreen Centre.

At the same time, Durham County Council is to be asked to give outline planning consent for housing on the site where the present police HQ is located.

The force says the current offices are no longer considered fit for purpose, with “extremely high running and maintenance costs, coupled with the fact it does not lend itself to modern working conditions”.

If the go-ahead is given, it is hoped that building work will start next October and could take up to 18 months to be completed.

If the proposals work out, the new premises could open in April 2014.

Ahead of the plan being submitted, events are being held to give County Durham residents, police officers and staff the chance to have their say.

Roadshows will be held at Peterlee Police Station from 5.30pm to 7.30pm on Wednesday and on Monday, October 31, from 5pm to 7pm in the Durham Room at County Hall, Durham City.

The force says the new development is being designed with the highest environmentally-friendly credentials which will also create a modern office environment for up to 480 officers and staff.

The headquarters dates back to 1969 when the first phase was opened by ex-Prime Minister Jim Callaghan.

Durham Police Authority chairman Peter Thompson said: “The new building will represent a considerable saving to the Police Authority, at a time when every penny spent is being scrutinised and must be justified.”

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham