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Quality drive holds up police stations

Construction work on new police stations is being delayed because civil servants want their design to be more 'inspirational'.
The Home Office is reviewing all new police projects following the release of the Design Quality for Police Buildings guide earlier this year.

Contractors are livid because the review is causing delays and cost increases on some projects.

A source at a scheme in Dorset, which is believed to be among the most severely affected, said: 'We could be delayed by up to 12 months. It's a bit depressing and is costing millions.'

In March this year Bluestone was awarded the £30 million deal by Dorset Emergency Services to build combined fire and police facilities.

But the whole project has been held up by the Home Office review and is having to be rethought, even though the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister had no objection to the design of the fire element.

As a result of design changes the cost has gone up between £5 million and £10 million.

A source at the scheme said: 'We tried to proceed with just the fire element but were told that we can't split the contract.

'We are desperate to get it wrapped up as the services are working in what resembles a rabbit hutch. They can still do the job but could do it better with new facilities and the longer it drags on, the more it costs.'

Three projects are thought to be severely affected although the Home Office would not release details of delays. One of the problems has been that reviews have occurred too late in the process.

A Home Office statement said: 'Ideally a review is carried out sufficiently early in the design process so as not to have a material impact on the project programme. As forces are encouraged to bring forward their projects for review at an earlier stage there is every indication that this will happen in the future.'

Other schemes being reviewed include Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, South Wales and Warwickshire.

By Andrew Hankinson

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