Sold sign goes up on former police HQ site in Ponteland

John Leslie and Dame Vera Baird.
John Leslie and Dame Vera Baird.

Northumbria Police and its Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, have sold the former headquarters in Ponteland.

The site, which is no longer needed for operational policing, has sold for a total of £21million.

It has had many uses over the last century, including a children’s home for more than 300 children and a teacher training college.

Throughout the negotiations, the Commissioner was passionate about also maintaining the heritage of the site as the listed buildings around the green will be refurbished and brought back into use as new homes.

Dame Vera has also given an assurance that the money raised from the sale will be reinvested back into policing across the Northumbria force area and reiterated that it will help deliver her commitment to maintain neighbourhood policing and ensuring officers remain in the community.

The site has planning permission for new housing – an outline application was approved in 2015 followed by two detailed schemes earlier this year for a total of 275 homes.

Dame Vera said: “The Ponteland site holds memories not just as a base for policing as it was utilised during the war, then it became a teacher training college and latterly a police headquarters.

“It’s had many uses over the years, but didn’t fit the needs of modern day policing.”

“Tough negotiations took place to ensure the best price possible was received and every penny is going back into policing.

“Central Government cuts to our budget has meant that difficult decisions have had to be taken and the money raised goes nowhere near covering the £150million cut from Northumbria Police since 2010, but it does ensure that we can remain focused on delivering the priorities set out in the Police and Crime Plan.”

Chief Constable Winton Keenen added: “We relocated much of our resource from Ponteland some time ago to ensure we could best serve our communities, whilst at the same time wrestling with the significant levels of financial cuts we continue to experience.

“This does close a chapter for Northumbria Police, but ensures we give ourselves the best opportunity to tackle the challenges of the future.”

The memorial garden has already been relocated to Middle Engine Lane in North Tyneside, which became the official new Northumbria Police headquarters in 2016.

John Leslie, estates manager for Northumbria Police, said: “Ensuring our buildings are fit for purpose is incredibly important.

“Older buildings cost a lot to maintain and we continue to work to ensure that our estate delivers value for money and best serves staff and the public.”

Bellway Homes submitted a bid to put its construction compound just outside the Ponteland site, on agricultural land in its ownership but in the green belt, for the first two years of development.

At a meeting of Northumberland County Council’s Castle Morpeth Local Area Council in June, it was approved by four votes to one.

But Coun Scott Dickinson, who chaired the meeting, said there was a reluctance from the committee in following the planning officer’s recommendation and called on the applicant to try to move the compound in under two years ‘and certainly no longer’.