Police commissioner gets change of use for old Greyfriars police station in Bedford

The future of the former Greyfriars police station in the town centre looks set to be settled once and for all.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 11:45 am

The prime town centre plot, which has prompted interest from a string of bidders, now has a change of use planning permission - meaning it can become a combination of flats with a ground floor shop.

Bedfordshire’s Police and crime commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, told the Bedford Borough Council’s Planning Committee that Bedfordshire Police, its architects and planning officers had worked closely to come up with a scheme which fitted the council’s plan for the town centre, yet still allowing her to get the best price possible.

“I have a statutory responsibility to get the best possible price for Greyfriars for the public purse and everyone knows that a site that is sold with planning permission already agreed, on a change of use basis, is worth more,” she said.

The former police station at Bedford Greyfriars

“We went back with a second proposal after planning officers suggested the first version had too many storeys and we now have a plan that mixes the homes that are so desperately needed in the Bedford area with the sort of lively street level facility which planners wanted us to include."

The change of use permission means that part of the old Greyfriars police station will be converted and the remainder built as a new structure to create a mixed block of 23 flats, including three at ground floor with disabled access, and a ground floor shop or cafe.

“They, quite understandably, want the town centre to be a lively place yet, new housing is needed desperately and the council only has a three-year supply plan currently, rather than the five years they need to identify. I’m particularly pleased that access for those who have mobility issues is being included and that the flats will be a mix of one to three bedroom homes,” added PCC Holloway.

The money raised from the Greyfriars sale can't be used to fund officers, according to public sector spending rules. Instead, it will fund the building of a new custody suite at Kempston Police HQ.

The Bedfordshire Police will now proceed to seek outline planning permission for the site.