Fears loan could be lost unless police station deal sealed soon
Community leaders are investigating whether they can secure a time extension to a loan offer because negotiations over the purchase of their town’s police station are dragging on longer than expected.
Saxmundham Town Council has put in an offer to buy the old police station following an initial proposal to close it and use the site for homes.
Town councillors want to convert the property in Station Approach for community use – with the current ideas including better offices for the town council, and a meeting place and information centre for the public.
Suffolk Constabulary has indicated that it would lease back part of the building as offices for the Safer Neighbourhood Team members.
The council has offered £125,000 for the building, expecting £50,000 of repairs on top of that sum.
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It has agreed to take out a loan of £250,000 from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) to make the purchase and pay for the renovation and conversion of the building.
However, the loan offer is set to expire in May – and at present a deal for the purchase of the building is far from concluded.
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Finance committee chairman Roger Plant said the council has approached the PWLB to see if it was possible to extend the deadline.
He said the council was waiting on decisions from the police as to whether they would be taking up space in the property as the force was now pursuing projects to share buildings with the fire service and needed to calculate whether such an arrangement would be more beneficial for Saxmundham.
Mr Plant said: “I want to assure the public that the prevarication is not down to the town council – we are keen to get this project under way as soon as possible – but I can understand the Police and Crime Commissioner wanting to get the best value for money for the people of Suffolk. We want to get the best value for money for the people of Saxmundham.”
Councillor Don Tricker said that if the police did not want to share the building, then this would create more space for community uses – whether that be the town library, a drop-in place for the young people or a coffee house for older residents.
The council was told there could also be a need for further ground survey work at the police station as the site was previously a gasworks.