Ipswich: Authorities ditch deal for new police station

IPSWICH: Proposals to convert St Edmund House into a new police station for the town have been ABANDONED, it emerged today.

It also emerged the county will not be converting part of the building into a new training centre.

The county council and police authority have pulled out of plans to transform the building – which went up in 1984 as a new home for Suffolk’s environment and transport departments – into a new home for public services near the centre of Ipswich.

The move was forced on the authorities by budget cuts – although both the council and the police say they are to continue looking for accommodation near the town centre.

The police still plan to move out of their existing main station at the junction of Elm Street and Civic Drive by 2013.

The county and police authority announced last June that they were planning to rationalise their buildings by selling or handing back the lease on a number of properties in the Ipswich area.

They would be replaced by space in Landmark House, on Whitehouse Road on the edge of town, and St Edmund House in a deal totalling �23million.

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It later emerged that buying and refurbishing Landmark House – which has never been occupied since it was built for electronics giant Agilent a decade ago – was costing �13m.

All the costs were split equally between the county council and Suffolk police authority.

The two authorities will go ahead with the purchase of Landmark House.

A statement from the police and council said: “As part of their property programme, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Police Authority can confirm that a decision has been taken to no longer continue with the purchase of St Edmund House in Ipswich.

“In light of the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review and the recent budget announcements made by central Government, future accommodation requirements will reduce and there are opportunities for more effective use of existing space, including the soon-to-be-refurbished Landmark House.

“There is still a commitment to develop a joint Ipswich town centre public access facility.”

The Evening Star understands the police are looking for a base for their central Ipswich Safer Neighbourhood Team, which would house more than a dozen people, and also an office where members of the public would be able to make face-to-face contact with police staff.

Opposition LibDem councillor Andrew Cann was the fiercest critic of the proposal to buy the two properties.

He said: “I was never convinced this was the right time to be developing major new office space in and around Ipswich, but I am puzzled by this decision.

“I don’t know why they are proceeding with the development of Landmark House.”

n Is it right to pull out of the St Edmund House deal? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or you can send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@evening star.co.uk