Lancashire Police’s Hutton HQ set for £75m overhaul over 12 years

Posted on - 16th January, 2024 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Lancashire Police, Preston News, South Ribble News
Lancashire Police HQ plans. Image: McBains via South Ribble Borough Council planning portal
Lancashire Police HQ plans. Image: McBains via South Ribble Borough Council planning portal

Lancashire Police headquarters are to get a £75m overhaul to make the force’s South Ribble base fit for the 21st century.


The bold blueprint for the site in Hutton first emerged just over a year ago and has now been granted planning permission.

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Lancashire’s police and crime commissioner Andrew Snowden told South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee that the transformation – which will involve the demolition of dozens of buildings – was urgently needed in order to bring the sprawling facility up to the standards required for present-day policing.

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Nevertheless, the eight-phase redevelopment will take between 10 and 12 years to complete, with construction work taking place intermittently during that period.


The scheme will cover both the main HQ site on Saunders Lane and nearby facilities on Lindle Lane, which house the constabulary’s dogs and horses.

Lancashire Police HQ map. Image: McBains via South Ribble Borough Council planning portal
Lancashire Police HQ map. Image: McBains via South Ribble Borough Council planning portal

As part of the revamp, extensions to the existing headquarters building will be removed and a new one added.  The remaining part of the structure will get what is described in planning documents as a “cosmetic upgrade” – and the completed facility will boast a “coherent design more suited to modern working practices”. Two new vehicle maintenance unit buildings will also be created, along with a decked car park and new kennels and stables.

The headquarters were first developed in the late 1930s and saw significant expansion after the Second World War.  The most recent new building is itself now 30 years old and Andrew Snowden told planning committee members – who were taken on a tour of the site ahead of considering the application – that the Lancashire force was “trying to run cutting-edge police servicing in the 2020s with infrastructure dating back to the 1960s”.

He added:  “It only takes a short amount of time to appreciate why 95 percent of the buildings on the two HQ sites are graded as unfit for purpose.   There is an urgent need to create a fit-for-purpose headquarters that can support and enable an efficient and effective policing service for our county.

“The headquarters is far more than just offices – it hosts a number of operational, investigative and digital capabilities. The proposal secures the site as a green, open and well-managed…[one which] is vastly improved visibly and operationally,” Mr. Snowden said.

The committee heard that an alternative option would be to sell off the greenbelt site and for the constabulary to move elsewhere, but the commissioner said: “That is not what we want, it is not what the local community would want and…certainly not what the local economy would want.”

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The plans aim to improve the parking situation at the facility, where almost 2,400 staff work – a headcount that is set to remain unchanged by the redevelopment.   Two hundred of the current parking spaces are “improvised”, which South Ribble planning officer Debbie Roberts said amounted to vehicles being “dumped in corners [or] on grass verges”. The proposal should “regularise” that issue, she explained, as well as improving parking outside the headquarters on Saunders Lane.

By the end of the revamp, almost 1,500 spaces will be available, more than 300 of which will be contained in a new two-deck car park within the site.   However, that prospect drew criticism from a Saunders Lane resident who said that the access ramp for the six-metre tall facility would be just 20 metres from his property. Francis McLaughlin added that a new internal circulatory road around the HQ would pass closer still to his back garden, “affording us no privacy”.

“This will destroy any enjoyment of our home and garden, with no respite,” he said.

The committee heard that additional landscaping in that area of the site had now been agreed with the applicant, a pledge which members insisted be included in a toughened-up planning condition.

They also inserted a stipulation that construction traffic for the development should not be permitted to pass through New Longton village, after concerns raised by New Longton and Hutton East ward councillor Margaret Smith.

Meanwhile, as part of the later phases of the redevelopment, there is a plan to create a new direct access to the headquarters site from the A59 Liverpool Road roundabout.

Committee member Phil Smith said that it was “a huge mistake” not to undertake that work at the start of the scheme, warning that there was a risk of the money running out for that aspect of the project if it was left until later.

However, the agent for the application, Matthew Baldwin, said that the location of existing buildings on the HQ plot made it impossible to develop the new roundabout entrance any sooner.

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He added that amendments had been made to other elements of the plans in response to public concerns, where it had been possible to do so – including the removal of public order training from the Saunders Lane site.

Cllt Phil Smith, who is another of the ward councillors for the area, said that the while the presence of the headquarters is sometimes a source of “aggravation” for locals, “one of the last things” he would want to see is for the facility to be shut down and the land repurposed.

“Having them close by must be a great benefit to Hutton…and the people that live locally – you’re never far from a police [officer],” he said.

Fellow committee member Peter Mullineaux said that he considered it “a coup “ for South Ribble to host the police headquarters, while Cllr Haydn Williams added that the revamped site would be “a fantastic facility for Lancashire Police and the officers that look after us – so we should look after them”.

The committee unanimously approved the application, granting full planning permission for the first three phases of the redevelopment – across both Saunders Lane and Lindle Lane – and outline permission for the remaining stages, which will be concentrated on the main HQ site and which will require further approval when the details are brought forward at a later date.

‘Ditch destructive development’, resident pleads

The redeveloped Hutton site will see an increase in biodiversity compared to current levels, councillors deciding on the plans were told.

The 122 trees that will have to be cut down for the work – mostly of moderate value –  will be replaced on a two-for-one basis.  A hedgerow will also be partially removed and a section of two woodlands cleared.

Ecology reports found that buildings on both the Saunders Lane and Lindle Lane sites show varying degrees of potential for bat and barn owl roosting, as well as the land having scope as foraging ground.

However, local resident Susan Fox said that there were no “clear proposals to ensure that [any creatures] will be protected during development and will thrive thereafter” – and called for a comprehensive environmental impact assessment to be carried out.

She added that in parts of Longton Brook there was evidence of bats, frogs, newts, toads, eels, sticklebacks and kingfishers – but claimed that no surveys had been undertaken to confirm their presence.

“I just urge the councillors to reject the current application – which is rooted, it seems to me, in the destructive ideas of the 1960s [and] 1970s – and encourage the applicant to produce a nature-friendly development, more in keeping with the era of [concern about] biodiversity loss and climate change,” Ms. Fox said.

Responding to the concerns raised, South Ribble planning officer Debbie Roberts said that the publicly available details of the ecology plans for the site might appear “quite thin on the ground” – but that was because they could not be published online “for security reasons”.

She said that while the Environment Agency had no jurisdiction over Longton Brook, as it was not a main river line at the point it passed through the headquarters, an ecological management plan for the entire site would be a condition of the planning permission.

That document, which will require separate approval from the authority, will propose “reasonable avoidance measures” to be taken for protected and notable species.


Meanwhile, Sports England objected to the loss of football and rugby playing pitches on the site and a bowling green close to the brook.

Councillors were told that the pitches had not been used since around 2010 and will not be used by police HQ staff, because all sports and training activities are now provided within buildings rather than outside.   Community use of the redundant facilities would not be possible given the necessary security arrangements and the presence of armoury facilities on site.

Some playing fields are to be retained and, because those that will be lost have not recently been used by an educational facility and are not council-owned, the Sports England objection did not have to be referred to the government for a final planning decision.

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