Community cafe plan for new Holbeck Police HQ

A community cafe run by local residents could open at a planned new divisional headquarters for Holbeck police.

A recent packed public meeting was told that multi-million pound proposals to transform the old greyhound track site off Elland Road would be in an ideal position to offer a better service to local residents, and would lead to better crime detection rates.

Chief Supt Mark Milsom, divisional commander for City and Holbeck, said the new site ‘was as near as perfect’ for the force as it had good road links, would help police Leeds United games better and bring together a range of services under one roof.

Milsom acknowledged that Holbeck police ‘probably weren’t good neighbours’ at their current Burton Road site because a lack of parking meant an overspill into neighbouring roads, but there would be no such problems at Elland Road. He also floated the idea of setting up a cafe run by the community at the site.

West Yorkshire Police plans three new state-of-the-art buildings at sites in Elland Road, Wakefield and Normanton. The force has received a Home Office guarantee of up to £215.9m of private finance initiative (PFI) funding for the three new buildings.

The 12,500 sq m Elland Road site would have 40 cells, 416 parking spaces and a community cafe. There would be one entrance for the public and another for offenders signing bail.

[youtube]Here are some of the comments made at the meeting by local residents:

– “Does it have to be ultra-modern? Can it not just be a building that is landscaped and not too OTT? Modern buildings are great on Canary Wharf but we’re talking about Heath Road in Beeston and 1930s semis – we’re not after awards, not a functional, welcoming building.”

– “It’s a great idea for a community cafe in the ownership of the community. The building needs to be welcoming and accessible for all – including disabled people. Perhaps a small group of disabled residents and community representatives could form expert advisory group?”

– “The possible designs look like the worst example of 1970s comprehensive school design.”

– “It needs to be a building that weathers well.”

– “It needs to be a building that’s inviting for local people.”

– “You should take a look at The Greenhouse development in Beeston Road. It is a modern, cutting-edge eco-building and there are facets there that could be used.”

Concerns were also raised that the demand for extra power might cause more power cuts in an area already prone to blackouts, but the police said the building wouldn’t impact on residents’ power supplies. Issues over access on congested Leeds United matchdays were also discussed.

Despite some quibbles from some of the people present, most people at the meeting seemed to show little major opposition to the scheme.

A preferred bidder for the scheme will be appointed by October and a detailed planning scheme is expected to be submitted to the council by November this year. Work could start on site my the middle of 2012. The current Holbeck Police Station, on Burton Road, would be sold.

What do you think to the proposals? Have your say in the comments section below.