Work on Wrexham’s new £1.9 million town centre police station is set to begin next week.
The new station will be located in the former Oriel Wrecsam in the library once the current Bodhyfryd building is demolished.
Plans for the relocation and new development were submitted to Wrexham Council in September 2015 and include a section of new frontage being built to house office space and new reception areas.
The application was debated several times by members of the planning committee in late 2015 / early 2016, with concerns raised about the loss of blue badge parking spaces. However the proposals were granted approval in February 2016.
Work on the project will start on Monday 15th May after it was given the go-ahead by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, who said the facility will “keep a range of vital frontline facilities in the heart of the town”.
The former gallery has been made available to North Wales Police on a 10-year leasing arrangement with Wrexham County Borough Council.
The transformation, which is being handled by Mold based contractors MPH Construction Ltd, will take 44 weeks to complete by July next year.
It is expected that the new station, which will provide the “full-range” of front of house services, will open its doors to the public for the first time in August 2018.
After being given a guided tour of the site, Mr Jones, himself a former police inspector, said: “I am very impressed by what I have been shown today.
“I have carefully followed this project right from its inception and it is especially pleasing that it offers the opportunity to keep the full range of frontline response services right in the heart of Wrexham town centre.
“The present headquarters building is well past its usefulness and it’s been extremely difficult and expensive to keep the fabric properly maintained.
“While the Eastern Divisional police headquarters is being moved into a purpose-built new base in Llay along with a range of back-up services, I believe it has been of absolute importance to see that frontline services are retained as close as possible to Wrexham town centre.”
Mr Jones added: “Based in the new station will be the local Safer Neighbourhood Team, the response teams for the central area along with both the supervision sergeant and inspector.
“The station will also be equipped with the very latest equipment to make for the swiftest possible response and detection of crime.
“It’s all about keep policing right at the heart of the community to provide a better and more comprehensive service for people living, working and visiting the Wrexham area.
“It’s also good to see that we are using contractors who are based in North Wales and the whole project will be good for the procurement of goods and services from local companies.”
Once complete 90 members of staff will report to the new station, with around 25 working at any one time.
Inspector Paul Wycherley, who is in charge of Wrexham town centre policing, agreed with the Commissioner about the many benefits of the new station will bring.
He said: “The inspector and the sergeant for the town centre will both based at the new station as will the Wrexham Safer Neighbourhood Team and the patrol officers who provide 24/7 cover for the area.
“The current headquarters building at Bodhyfryd was at the end of its useful life and maintaining it for the past seven or eight years was becoming more of a challenge.
“I’m looking forward to the prospect of putting my officers into a modern, state-of-the-art station and we’re now counting the days until we can start providing our services from there.
“It’s going to be a modern 21st century facility from which we will be able to provide high quality policing to the people of Wrexham.”
Part of the redevelopments for the new station include the remodelling of the old gallery area and a large extension at the far end of the building.
The interior of the structure will undergo a complete refurbishment, including the installation of numerous offices, meeting and interview rooms.
A new entrance for the library’s cafe will also be created.
Andrew Foster, site manager for MPH Construction, said: “We have previously worked successfully on a number of projects for North Wales Police and we’re looking forward to starting work on this one which will be of the very latest design when it is finished in July of next year.”
The creation of a smaller town centre police station comes as a result of Wrexham’s main policing headquarters locating to the Llay Industrial Estate, with work beginning on the £21.5 million development in January 2017.
The new eco-friendly headquarters will provide modern custody facilities with 32 cells to detain people arrested in Wrexham and Flintshire.
It is thought the new police headquarters will be complete by August 2018.
In July 2014 it was mooted that Wrexham’s town centre police station would move from its current site on Bodhyfryd to the Oriel Gallery Space just across the road. The move would come as a result of the Oriel Gallery eventually relocating to a new ‘Arts and Cultural Hub’ in the People’s Market.
The 14 storey building was built in the 1970s and is one of the most prominent buildings on the Wrexham skyline. However, since it was built it has received mixed reviews from local residents, many of whom consider it an eyesore.
In November 2016 Wrexham.com reported that the town centre ‘breeze block’ police station on the Bodhyfryd site, along with its car park, had been listed as for sale on both a conditional and unconditional basis.