THE police station in Lyndhurst is set to be expanded into the old court building ahead of Hampshire Constabulary gaining more officers, it has been revealed.
The county’s police and crime commissioner (PCC), Michael Lane, will oversee a revamp of the Pikes Hill facility after purchasing the former magistrates’ court next door for £900,000.
The court was owned by the Ministry of Justice and has lain empty since being closed by the government in 2010 as a cost-cutting measure.
The purchase was made by the PCC as his office is responsible for overseeing and managing the police’s estate, and anticipates a growth in policing numbers.
The government made a three-year commitment in 2019 to increase recruitment by 20,000, including 156 for Hampshire in the first 12 months. The PCC’s office has pledged a “re-provision” of the facility to take into account more staff.
Lyndhurst Parish Council chair Cllr Chris Willsher supported the plans, saying: “We certainly welcome anything that leads to increased police resourcing in the local community.”
Confirming the purchase to the A&T, a spokesperson for the PCC said: “The existing police station in Lyndhurst is no longer fit for purpose.
“The magistrates’ court forms part of the same building as the police station and it was necessary to purchase the magistrates’ court in order to fully formulate a strategy for the re-provision of the police station.
“The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) is working with the constabulary to plan the most effective and efficient use of the police estate, taking account of the officer uplift. This work is ongoing.”
The deal was concluded after the OPCC and the Ministry of Justice had been discussing it for more than three years.
The spokesperson added: “The OPCC paid £900,000 for the freehold interest in the magistrates’ court. All of the buildings were included.
“The courts have been vacant for in excess of 10 years and the buildings were in a poor state of repair, and there were no fixtures and fittings.”
However, the old cells at Lyndhurst will not be used, she said, as custody in Hampshire is now provided from new police investigation centres in Southampton, Portsmouth and Basingstoke.
She added: “Lyndhurst police station continues to be maintained in accordance with best practice but is an older building that is not ideally suited to modern policing.
“The building is too big and too cellular, and has a redundant custody facility which no longer meets national guidance.
“The commissioner’s estate strategy commits to providing the most effective and efficient police estate, and the development of Lyndhurst police station remains a constituent element of the commissioner’s estate change programme.
“It will modernise facilities for current and future policing requirements, while providing best value to the public purse.”