Blue light hubs costs escalate towards £8.7m

An impression of the new hub at Princes Street, Ipswich. 

An impression of the new hub at Princes Street, Ipswich. - Credit: LDRS

The creation of shared police and fire stations in Ipswich and Stowmarket will more likely cost £8.7m to complete following cost increases. 

A Suffolk County Council report confirmed costs have escalated for the blue light hubs at Princes Street, Ipswich, and at the A1120 junction with Needham Road, Stowmarket, due to a number of factors including cost of building materials and structural developments. 

At Princes Street, the original £4.1million contract sum has increased to just over £5m, while Stowmarket has gone up from £3.5m to £3.7m.

Both hubs are due to open next summer.

According to the council, market factors around Covid-19 and the availability of materials have equated to a cost increase of about 10%, while Princes Street requires additional structural work.

Councillor Andrew Reid, Conservative cabinet member for public health, public protection and communities at Suffolk County Council, said: “The construction work at both Ipswich Princes Street and Stowmarket is progressing well, despite some challenges due to the impact of Covid, securing materials, and some additional structural alterations required at the Ipswich site.

The blue light hub at Stowmarket. 

The blue light hub at Stowmarket. - Credit: LDRS

“As a result, there have been cost increases which will be shared across the county council and the constabulary, however the projects do have considerable external funding.

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“The stations are due for completion in the early summer of 2022, and at their heart will provide excellent, modern facilities for our emergency services. I’m proud that they also support our net zero ambitions and response to the climate emergency.”

Funding increases to cover the costs have been approved, while mitigation measures are in place in the case of any future material or construction cost rises, a spokesman confirmed.

The projects have also attracted funding of £3.1m from central government, and just over £431,000 from housing developer contributions, known as Community Infrastructure Levy.

Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said: “Our blue light collaboration has proved extremely successful to date, working together is absolutely key to meeting the financial challenges we face.

“Police and fire share 11 existing stations across the county and I’m confident the brand new facility in Stowmarket, and the new joint station at Princes Street in Ipswich, will see equal benefit.

“I am particularly pleased to see the plans for both projects boast a range of green credentials.

“These two ambitious projects both started during the pandemic which has unfortunately resulted in increased costs.

“However we must remember that this collaboration saves the public purse the cost of running multiple buildings and improves the joint working of these two key blue light services, which makes perfect sense.”