The Metropolitan Police will soon be embarking on its most radical reform since it was founded in 1829. The new era won’t just mean changes in policing but could provide up to 3,000 new homes.
The big idea, from Deputy Mayor for Policing Strephen Greenhalgh, is “bobbies not buildings.” New Scotland Yard will be sold, along with nearly 200 other Met properties.
'The police cell of today could be the bijou West End residence of tomorrow'
Mr Greenhalgh says far fewer people report crimes by visiting police stations these days, so London needs fewer station counters, though it is stressed that each London borough will retain at least one police station open round the clock.
Officers will be encouraged to eat their meals in local cafés rather than in police canteens. There are six firing ranges at present and some of these will close but a new one will open at the Peel Centre in Hendon, which the police say will create better training facilities.
The aim is to reduce the £205 million a year the force spend on running its buidings. It is the intention to reduce this to £140 million as nearly three million square feet of land is sold off. Sales of buildings will also reduce debt and interest payments. Having been largely immune from property asset management for the past couple of centuries, the Met are suddenly in for a property pruning.
New Scotland Yard alone is almost half a million square feet. If this iconic building gains change of use - from commercial to residential - the value will rocket. Barnet Council, the Greater London Authority and other interested parties are already discussing the future of The Hendon police college in Barnet, which is close to Colindale Tube Station, and could provide significant housing while still accommodating any ongoing requirements of the Met.
Marylebone Police Station in Seymour Place has significant potential. The site is owned freehold by the Portman estate who have a pre-emption right to acquire back the Met’s long lease. Hampstead Police Station in Camden will be a hot property although listed, a conversion and partial new-build scheme could provide homes.
Jonathan Glanz is presiding over this sale of the century. He is the adviser for Property & Estates to the Mayor’s Office for Policing, the Director and Chairman of property company ‘45West’ and a councillor in Westminster where he is Cabinet Member for Housing and Property.
Glanz says police property will be sold to allow the Met to re-invest in their properties, reduce overheads and provide much needed homes for Londoners. The police cell of today could be the bijou West End residence of tomorrow.