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Housebuilders should fund cop shops

Paid with public funds: Exeter's new nick (courtesy: Devon & Cornwall PCC)

Devon & Cornwall Police commissioner wants cash from developers

For decades developers have contributed to the cost of local infrastructure while building homes and business premises, with roads, schools, swimming pools, cycle paths and even sporting arenas built across Devon and Cornwall with money paid as a condition of planning approval.

These so-called ‘section 106’ agreements and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) payments prevent the cost of essential community infrastructure falling on councils or taxpayers.

Now the police and crime commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly wants builders to pay for police buildings, vehicles and essential equipment too.

Alison Hernandez, whose office owns the police estate, is arguing that police need suitable premises and cash from developers is one way of stumping up for it.

Since December the police and crime commissioner has put in seven requests to housebuilders, the biggest of which is for £1.9 million and relates to a planning application for 3,550 homes at Langarth, near Truro.

The commissioner’s team ia also involved in discussions with the government in an attempt to establish the principle of funding for police infrastructure through CIL  and 106 agreements in emerging planning legislation.

“Developers have rightfully contributed towards providing the school spaces and highways infrastructure that their properties will require,” Alison Hernandez said. “Our force area is one of the safest places in the country and part of my role is to own and invest in the estates that the police need to keep it that way. We have spent many millions of pounds on new stations for our communities in recent years but receive a fraction of this each year from central government for capital projects, so I am interested in exploring new ways of raising the money required to maintain a world-class police service.”

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has also made an application for £275,000 relating to proposals for 320 homes and relating to a 400-bed student development in Truro’s Pydar Street. If successful the money raised from that and the Langarth project is likely to go towards a new and larger police station for the city.

“Truro’s police station is not one of our largest and is pretty much at capacity,” the Commissioner said.

“Our communities have funded hundreds more police officers through their taxation over the course of my four-year term.

“I see this as correcting an injustice in that until now the tax payer has been footing the bill for police infrastructure required because of housing and business developments.”

The commissioner’s head of estates has been working with those from other force areas as part of the National Police Estates Group as well as colleagues from Fire and Ambulance services across the country to respond to the Government’s recent consultation on planning. The aim is to make it mandatory for developers to fund the infrastructure needed for the three emergency services when developing new communities in the UK.

Improving the system of developer contributions was one of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s key proposals as part of its Planning for the Future consultation and white paper. 


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