Old police stations in London ‘will be saved for community use’ under law change
Former police stations will be able to be saved for community use rather than sold off to developers under an imminent change in the law, campaigners believe.
This has increased hopes for the future use of Teddington’s old police station – and could also protect Notting Hill’s former police station.
The breakthrough came when the Government backed moves to allow the Mayor’s office for policing and crime to sell disused police stations for below their market value where this would promote the good of the community.
Ministers have tabled an amendment to the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill that is going through the Lords.
This could pave the way for disused police stations across England and Wales to be converted into affordable housing, GP surgeries, community centres and environmental projects.
In Teddington, a community campaign is seeking to turn the building into social and affordable housing and a new home for Park Road GP surgery.
Munira Wilson, the Lib-Dem MP for Twickenham, who secured cross-party support for the change in the law, said: “This is a huge step forward for Teddington and communities across London who are seeing publicly-owned sites that once served them now being sold off, all too often for luxury developments.
“Sadiq Khan can no longer claim his hands are tied. When the Levelling-up Bill passes, it will be there in black and white. The Mayor should make the right choice for Londoners by selling Teddington police station and other similar sites for community use.”
Previously, the Mayor’s policing office said it was under a legal duty to sell disused stations to the highest bidder. More than 100 police stations have been closed in the capital in the last decade.
Dr Nicky Grundy, a partner at Park Road Surgery, said it was “fantastic news” that Teddington police station did not have to be sold to the highest bidder.
He added: “Park Road surgery needs the more modern premises the police station would offer so we can meet the needs of our patients.
“We continue to work with local housing associations and voluntary sector organisations to turn the site into a true hub to benefit the whole community.”
It is understood that no decision has been taken on the future of Teddington and Notting Hill police stations.
In Notting Hill, Kensington and Chelsea council is bidding to buy the police station which was put up for sale in 2020, with council plans also including a GP surgery, a space for local police, community space to rent and affordable housing.
Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley is reviewing the force’s estates strategy, a process expected to take a number of months.
The Mayor’s policing office said: “The difficult decision to close Teddington police station was taken in order to prioritise police officer numbers in the face of chronic underfunding of the Met by the Government.
“Mopac supports the principles behind the amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and will do everything they can to ensure that the Teddington Police Station site is put to best possible use.
“The Mayor has repeatedly stated his ambition to build more genuinely affordable homes on surplus public land in London and maximise the number of homes being built on land owned or released by the Greater London Authority group.”