Published: 09:00, 21 May 2020
| Updated: 12:53, 21 May 2020
Kent Police are selling their Sutton Road headquarters in Maidstone.
The force has been based at the site since 1940 but it is no longer providing the “best possible value for money” and cash from the sale will be reinvested.
The chief officer team will relocate in September to the North Kent Police Station in Northfleet but it’s not yet known where remaining staff will be placed.
Officers, support staff and administrators are based at the HQ. The exact number of employees is not known but Kent Police Federation Chairman Neil Mennie believes it to be in the hundreds.
Deputy Chief Officer Ian Drysdale said the force had spent 18 months reviewing its estate and had spent a lot of work looking at how it can deliver its services, which are rated outstanding.
He added: “The Chief Constable has come to the decision the force’s headquarters site is no longer providing the best possible value for money due to its ongoing maintenance costs and we are able to consider alternative locations that are owned elsewhere in the county.
“Therefore, the Chief Constable and the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner have decided to sell the current headquarters and invest that money back into other parts of our operational policing estate and training school, which we remain committed to retaining and improving.”
Maidstone Police Station, in Palace Avenue, is unaffected and the force will keep its training school in Coverdale Avenue, which is near the HQ site.
“We will update the public as well as our officers and staff on this project as and when further information becomes available,” DCO Drysdale added.
The closest police stations to Maidstone, which could take staff, are in Gillingham and Rainham.
Whether they have extra capacity is not known and the force has not said which sites are being considered.
There are also stations further afield, including in Dover, Deal, Ashford and the large Bouverie House in Folkestone.
This news comes two months after Kent Police resubmitted proposals to build 202 homes behind its current headquarters and training school in Maidstone.
The plans cover a total of 14 acres and would see 90 dwellings constructed behind the school, off St Saviours Road, and 112 built behind the Sutton Road complex.
Proposals submitted to Maidstone Council also involve demolishing police homes in Weald Close, but whether they are currently in use and their number is not known.
Both parcels of land are used on a limited basis, according to planning documents, and there are “concerns regarding the cost” of maintaining land behind the headquarters.
The plans were first approved in 2017 but were resubmitted in late March after the deadline to begin building ran out. Both pieces of land are earmarked for development in Maidstone’s Local Plan.
Concerns have been raised by people living nearby about the environmental impact and the increase of traffic. But planning documents setting out the schemes argue they meet a housing need.
In March it was revealed that Kent County Council is considering quitting Sessions House, in Maidstone after more than a century, with about 1,100 members of staff potentially affected. The council wants to stay in Maidstone.