Landmark Fettes police HQ set to be sold off and razed for housing

Edinburgh's police HQ is set to be sold off and demolished to make way for hundreds of homes in a deal with the council, the Evening News can reveal.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 7:00 am
The former police headquarters at Fettes could be sold this year.

Detailed plans for the redevelopment of the site have been outlined in a document seen by the Evening News which labels the station "under utilised, inefficient, ageing, in poor condition” and requiring “significant maintenance”.

In the plans Police Scotland has stated the site would make a significant contribution towards Edinburgh’s housing needs “delivering much needed homes in a central urban site.”

Fettes station and the wider 14 acres site at Crewe Road South is identified as a site for housing-led mixed development under the council’s City Plan 2030.

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The iconic former HQ at Fettes Row.

The redevelopment of the site is key to Police Scotland’s wider estates strategy as it seeks to cash-in on legacy properties it inherited when the country’s forces amalgamated in 2013.

The cash-strapped force has sold off a number of police stations across the country in recent years, including the former headquarters of Strathclyde Police in Glasgow.

If proposals are accepted, the site, which is currently used for offices, vehicle workshops, kennels and specialist operations buildings, will be cleared to make way for a high-demand housing development.

A senior officer said: "Police Scotland's budget issues are widely known and the additional strain on finances posed by maintaining or replacing legacy estate infrastructure will be alleviated by obtaining best value for properties within that estate.

Fettes Station is to be demolished for high-demand housing.

"Many local police stations have been closed, sold on or re-purposed. The situation at Fettes is straightforward. Does the force spend a large amount of capital from its budget upgrading a legacy building which many see as no longer fit for purpose or does it obtain best value for the property and release significant funds to invest elsewhere? It’s not hard to see which option makes the most sense.

"I am confident that Fettes will be disposed of with its future decided by market forces and potential developers. The city council is the most obvious purchaser on the horizon."

In an official submission to the council on the City Plan 2030, Police Scotland has provided site analysis and its own reassessment of the land, based on council criteria to support allocation of the site for mixed development with hundreds of homes.

The report, carried out by commercial real estate firm Avison Young, concludes: "The redevelopment of the site will deliver significant new housing to help meet the city’s housing needs and provides the opportunity to realise a high quality site which could contribute positively to the local area and include accessible high quality open space where at present public access does not exist.”

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs, Local Policing East said: "The future requirements of the Fettes site, including the form of any Police Scotland facility on the site, is currently being assessed and a final decision will be reached in the 2021/22 financial year.

"The review will establish where and how we can best accommodate our officers and staff, in a workplace which supports their well being, while potentially co-locating alongside partner organisations. Consideration will also be given to the most appropriate locations for national policing resources to be of benefit to local communities, as well as across Scotland.

Cllr Neil Gardiner Planning Convener, said: "Land at Fettes, was identified as one of many different potential sites to be considered in Choices, as part of the housing analysis work carried out for City Plan 2030.

“The council is currently carefully considering all of the comments made during the consultation and will take a proposed Plan to a future committee, which we hope will be in August.”

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