Fakenham's police looking for new home

Norfolk Police is searching for a new base in Fakenham after declaringthe town's 53-year-old police station unfit for modern operational needs.

NORFOLK Constabulary is searching for a new base in Fakenham after declaring

the town's 53-year-old police station unfit for modern operational needs.

The number of officers based at the Norwich Road building was boosted in April when it was designated one of Norfolk's six response bases following a county-wide reorganisation.

But the force's estates managers said the building was not suitable for larger operational teams, with no proper briefing rooms, cramped changing areas and limited parking space.

Concerns have also been raised that the station, built in 1956, would be unable to cope with Fakenham's growing population if a planned expansion of the town with 800 new homes goes ahead.

Norfolk Constabulary's long-term estates strategy provides for the replacement of the station in 2010/11, with the new "strategic deployment base" housing regional response

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team officers along with the local neighbourhood policing team.

No details have yet been released as to where it could be located, but North Norfolk District Council officers said land could be made available within the planned new development north of the town.

A Norfolk police spokesman said: "We wish to provide a new fit-for-purpose police premise which will serve Fakenham and surrounding communities for the next 60 years.

"The site is no longer suitable for modern operational needs."

The Norwich Road property - near the town's fire station and the former magistrates' courthouse - came 10th from bottom in the police's 2009 review of property assets. The survey rated each property for its running costs, space utilisation, five-year planned maintenance costs and energy performance.

North Norfolk District Council is working on draft Local Development Framework (LDF) plans which have allocated land to the south of the A148 bypass for new homes, businesses and services.

A police response to the LDF consultation says: "There is no room

at the existing site or buildings to expand police services to serve potential growth in the town. My office is actively seeking an alternative site."

The consultation includes a comment from council officers which says land could be made available for police and public sector uses within the proposed mixed-use development.