Rationalising estate for Avon & Somerset PCC

Since 2010, Hartnell Taylor Cook has been retained as property advisor to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset (PCC) in relation to the rationalisation of their property portfolio.

Challenge
The PCC historically operated from a large portfolio of properties mainly, but not exclusively, police stations scattered across their entire administrative region. Many of the properties were not only expensive to maintain and manage but no longer fit or purpose for an efficient and modern police service. The difficulties and complications of operational and property rationalisation were compounded by budget constraints and the requirements to maintain operational service throughout.

Solution
The Development and Agency teams based in Bristol have worked closely with the Estates Department of the PCC to identify and select preferred options for disposal and suitable alternative accommodation.

Many of the redundant sites were owned freehold by the PCC but often comprised buildings unsuitable for conversion or retention. Typically the sites were located in suburban mixed use areas and therefore presented excellent opportunities for redevelopment for alternative uses particularly residential, retirement or care homes.

In the past eight years the Development team has been responsible for the sale of over 15 former police stations including sites at Bath, Bridgwater, Weston-Super-Mare, Portishead, Thornbury and Southmead Bristol.  With complex development site sales, HTC worked with the Estates department and a team of professional consultants to undertake prudent pre-sale technical investigations to understand and inform the development and sale process. During many disposals close liaison with the local planning authority was maintained to ensure the optimum consent was obtained and the optimum price secured for the PCC via overage or claw back arrangements.

To facilitate relocation and rationalisation to modern purpose-built efficient and cost effective facilities, the Development and Agency teams worked with the PCC Estates team to acquire alternative accommodation.  In some circumstances suitable buildings were identified including Harlequin Business Park in North Bristol and Aztec West.  However, in many cases due to the highly specific occupier requirements the demands of the operators could only be satisfied through new development of land e.g. North Bristol, Bridgwater, Weston-Super-Mare and Keynsham. The Development team was also responsible for the purchase of the PCC’s new mounted horse and dog handling centre in Clevedon, one of the best in the country.

Result
HTC has built a close working relationship with the PCC Estates Department and has a thorough knowledge of the unique and special requirements associated with co-ordinating the buying and selling of property whilst protecting the ability to operate a modern police service.  From a purely property perspective the rationalisation of the portfolio has resulted in a number of state of the art buildings and reduced management and maintenance costs across the estate ensuring that these costs savings can be channelled towards the front line.

 

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