Deal to redevelop force former police HQ in Stafford collapses
FORMER police headquarters are set to be bulldozed after a deal to sell the land to a housing developer collapsed at the last minute.
Developer Taylor Wimpey was selected last year to convert the former Staffordshire Police base in Stafford but the firm is now understood to have withdrawn from the deal.
And negotiations with an unnamed second firm have broken down at the eleventh hour for 'commercial reasons'.
Staffordshire Police Authority is going back to the drawing board in its bid to sell the 16-acre site in Cannock Road.
Members will meet next week to discuss demolishing the buildings to make the site more attractive to buyers.
David Pearsall, chairman of Staffordshire Police Authority, said: "The authority has been involved in very detailed and advanced negotiations with two property development companies over the sale.
"After the first company withdrew, we entered into further detailed negotiations with the second company.
"That company then withdrew their offer at the last moment, citing commercial reasons. Negotiations have therefore come to an end.
"In light of this very recent development, the authority is now reviewing the situation before determining the way forward and we will be considering a proposal next week to clear the site of its existing buildings."
"We are committed to ensuring any future outcome is the best possible for taxpayers."
The force has been inviting bids for its former headquarters for more than a year.
Authority members are keen to offload the land as soon as possible as the force tries to make £34 million cuts by 2015.
Experts say the collapse of the deals is probably the result of continued uncertainty in the property market, and a shortage of buyers able to make big developments worthwhile.
Property expert Richard Day, a partner at Hanley-based estate agents Daniel and Hulme, said: "There are not that many development sites coming to the market at the moment because people recognise the market is tough.
"A lot of the issue is also about funding provided by banks to allow deals to go ahead.
"They may be prepared to lend money, but there could well be conditions attached to it which make the developer not want to continue.
"You've also got to have people at the bottom to start the chain. If young people can't afford to get on the ladder it will stop the momentum of deals going ahead."
Stafford Borough Council granted outline planning permission for up to 200 homes on the site in December 2009, stating that any future development must include some affordable housing.
Staffordshire Police moved to its new £16 million headquarters in Weston Road, Stafford, in February 2010.
It had occupied its 16-acre site at the junction of Cannock Road and Weeping Cross since the 1950s.