THE police’s new state-of-the-art facility in Portsmouth could be built on contaminated land – despite the force losing cash when it was found land bought for the county HQ was polluted.
Hampshire police lost out after the sale price of headquarters Alpha Park, which it bought for £9.6m, was cut when contamination was found, having stood empty for five years, costing the taxpayer £1.8m.
But police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes said the force was having difficulty finding an affordable location in Portsmouth to build a much-needed new police investigation centre.
He is willing to spend a six-figure sum on land in the city, even if that meant it was contaminated land that needed cleaning up.
Mr Hayes said: ‘We’re prepared to invest to clean up some of the land which would be an additional cost but I was prepared to do that.’
Asked if he was concerned about doing so after the saga of Alpha Park, which Mr Hayes had called a ‘toxic asset’, he said: ‘We need to spend some money on how much contamination there is in the site that we might choose to purchase.’
He said once the state of the land is known, it may affect the price.
The location of the land has not been revealed and is on a list of possible sites.
Mr Hayes told The News last week of the need to find a new police centre in Portsmouth, labelling the current station in Fratton ‘substandard’.
John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: ‘If we are going into a purchase understanding the risks, and in this case it’s contaminated land, then you plan for it.
‘The problem we’ve got historically is we’ve bought blind without understanding the consequences.’
But The News can also reveal that the sale of Alpha Park, in Chandler’s Ford, has still not been finalised.
Contracts have been swapped with the buyer and police but the January 2014 sale is subject to planning permission.
Mr Apter said: ‘It’s frustrating because I thought it was long gone – let’s get it sold and hopefully move on.’
He added: ‘Alpha Park is not a great chapter in the history of Hampshire Constabulary.’
Mr Hayes said he took the ‘tough decision’ to sell the land at a loss – but still will not reveal the selling price. But he said it is no longer costing the taxpayer.
Bericote Properties Limited has submitted a planning application to Eastleigh Borough Council to build industrial units at the site.
Regarding Alpha Park, a spokeswoman for the office of the police and crime commissioner said: ‘Contracts have been exchanged, with completion subject to planning permission.
‘No further details can be released at this time due to commercial sensitivities.’