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Old police station with Raac to be demolished

Tuesday, 13 February 2024 14:40

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

The former Barnstaple police station. Image courtesy: Google Street View

Officers moved out 4 years ago

The boarded-up former Barnstaple police station, condemned four years ago as a safety hazard, is to be demolished after approval was given by North Devon Council.

Police moved out of the 60-year-old three storey building in 2020 following the discovery of Racc (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) in the roof and into a former warehouse at Seven Brethren owned by the district council which it still occupies today.

Raac was a cheap building material used to construct many public buildings between the 1950s and 1980s and came to public and media attention last year when the Department of Education advised schools to close buildings with Raac until safety work took place.

Roof panels made from Racc were found to have defects such as cracking and corrosion and deemed to be at risk of collapse. Concerns were first raised about the quality of the material in 1996.

Devon and Cornwall police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez said the force’s head of estates showed “real leadership” and ordered a survey of the whole police estate well before Racc came to the public’s attention.

It found evidence of Racc at two sites, Barnstaple police station and a sports hall and swimming pool at the force’s headquarters in Exeter, which has since been rebuilt.

The new temporary police station in Barnstaple, a former car parts warehouse, was completed in six months, including craning in modular cells for the custody unit, and represented a £2 million investment in the force estate. The former station was not financially viable to repair, said the commissioner.

The current facility is intended to be for five years but this could be extended whilst the force finds a site and cash for a new North Devon ‘justice hub’ combining police, courts and the probation service.

Police have also announced that neighbourhood team officers will have a presence at North Devon Council’s new customer service hub in Green Lanes Shopping Centre.

In a report to North Devon Council planning agents for the police The Bailey Partnership said the removal of the disused station would ensure the safety of the area, and release a brownfield site for potential employment development in the future.

The site is adjacent to grade II listed buildings, the historic Barnstaple motte and bailey castle and Barnstaple town centre conservation area.

Officers recommended approval of the application and a new external elevation wall for the adjoining county court and it was supported by the council.

They said that the floor slab would be maintained and stone bollards would be installed around the perimeter of the site which would deter vehicle intrusions of the area and required no maintenance.

Two existing trees will be retained and those planned to be removed will be replaced.

More than 230 schools across the UK were found to have Raac last year including two in Devon, Petroc College in North Devon and Colyton Grammar School near Seaton.

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