A former police station, which had been earmarked for disposal as part of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (OPCC) Estates Strategy, has been secured by a community benefit society as a community asset.
Cricklade Police Station, on the town’s High Street, was one of a number of buildings across the police estate identified as being surplus to operational policing requirements. Last week, Cricklade Development Foundation (CDF) was told its bid to buy and protect this key town property had been successful.
The agreement is now in the hands of both legal parties and completion is expected in August.
Kieran Kilgallen, OPCC Chief Executive, said: "We are delighted that CDF has secured the former police building and will be developing this for the benefit of their community. Plans for the property which will ensure it continues to be at the heart of Cricklade’s community are commendable and we look forward to seeing those plans develop and come to fruition.
“We know that news of any sales of police estate will raise questions but the sale of former stations no longer required for 21st century policing is one of the last steps in the estates strategy. These sites are no longer required for modern-day policing and all capital will be reinvested in improving facilities and ensuring frontline staff have what they need to keep communities safe and operate effectively in the years to come.
“It does not mean that local people will have less access to police officers and PCSOs, the reality is very different. Buildings don’t keep people safe from crime, it is the visibility of officers out in the community and their ability to respond quickly when needed that is important.”
The Estates Strategy, which has been in place from 2017, required Wiltshire Police to conduct a needs assessment of all of the police estate to ensure it was fit-for-purpose and met the current, and future, need of operational policing within the county.
Those buildings that were identified as not meeting the policing need were marketed for sale, with the proceeds being reinvested into improving facilities - ensuring Wiltshire Police estate is fit to support policing in the 21st century and frontline staff have what they need to ensure communities are kept safe and to operate effectively.
Recent investments in the police estate, as a result of the OPCC Estates Strategy, include a complete refurbishment of Royal Wootton Bassett Police Station, a new policing hub at the planned Tidworth Community Civic Centre and a new police station at Warminster.
Members of CDF were also delighted their bid had been successful. Their plans include an exterior redesign more in keeping with the current High Street while also looking at retaining the property for commercial use for the community and to improve local employment opportunities.
Ruth Szybiak, Chair of Cricklade Development Foundation, added: "Cricklade Police Station is at the heart of our community here in Cricklade High Street. The Society is absolutely delighted to be able to secure the property for the future use of the community in line with Cricklade's Neighbourhood Plan.
"To help us to raise the funds to develop the property, we urge our residents to become members of our Society and to buy community shares. By helping the Society in this way, you will be making a very real vote of confidence in the future of our High Street - and all who work, live and shop here.”