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Greyfriars marked for quality homes says PCC
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has announced that Greyfriars Police Station in Bedford town centre is to become a residential development after a “very successful” bidding process.

A total of 16 bids were received by the PCC for the Greyfriars Police Station building with the preferred bidder, and all those in serious contention, seeking to create a residential development on the site. The Commissioner stressed that she wants to ensure that the development will fit in with the council’s plan for the town centre and help to further reinvigorate Bedford.

“It’s been a very successful bidding process and the high value placed upon the site now, and interest shown in it, reflect the way Bedford Borough Council has been effectively transforming the centre of Bedford recently, particularly the brand new Riverside development of flats, a cinema and restaurants in a location only minutes away from the Greyfriars site on foot. I’m not going to jeopardise that in any way and want the residential development of Greyfriars to be of high quality to reflect this approach to transforming the centre of Bedford as we all want the town to be an attractive and safe place to live, work and visit,” said Commissioner Holloway.

“I made sure that the council was part of the process to consider the outcome of sealed bids and we intend to work very closely together to make sure the successful bidder receives all the information necessary to proceed with a planning application for a quality residential development which must reflect the local plan,” said the Commissioner.

The sealed bids process closed on September 1 and was overseen by agents Lambert Smith Hampton. A report from the agents was then considered by a panel comprised of the Commissioner, the CEO of Bedford Borough Council Phil Simpkins, the independent chair of the Police and Crime Panel Paul Cain and the Chief Finance Officer for Bedfordshire Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Phil Wells.

Mr Cain has conducted two reviews of Bedfordshire Police’s Estate of buildings for the Police and Crime Panel, who have long wanted the site to be sold, after the closure of the custody suite there.

Mr Cain welcomed the successful bidding process and offers for the site, “I have been reviewing Bedfordshire Police Estates since 2013 in my role on the Police and Crime Panel and in particular Greyfriars, which has served Bedford extremely well but which no longer offers a cost effective police presence for Bedford.

“I am delighted to now see that a totally open and transparent bidding process has produced an excellent result for everyone involved and will add to the regeneration of Bedford centre.”

The Commissioner announced that both a bid which is conditional on planning permission and one which is not have been received from the highest bidder, which will now be explored with planners.

“We are at a very early stage of this process and all the bids are informal offers. I am, of course, committed to tell the world the price which is paid and by whom once the ink is dry on the paper and, in fact, can’t wait to do so! Until then though this is a commercially sensitive matter and discretion has to be maintained. Suffice to say that I am very happy with the quality of the bids which have been received and the sheer number of potential buyers who have made serious offers,” said Commissioner Holloway.

The Commissioner stressed that the Community Policing team for Bedford will remain in the town in a more visible and central location.

“We are opening a new Enquiries Office in the very centre of Bedford, just off the high street at Lime Street. The Community team will move there in December once conversion work is complete. This is just as promised in my Police and Crime Plan as people need to be able to see and talk to our officers as easily as possible and even Greyfriars station was at a slight distance from the very centre of the main shopping and working district by day and pubbing and clubbing area by night. There will, of course, be no gap in policing left between the development of Greyfriars and the move to Lime Street,” she said.