Thirty six police stations and properties worth almost £90m are up for sale as part of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime’s (MOPAC) efforts to redirect policing spending to the front line.
The disposals are part of a new estate strategy, unveiled earlier this month by Deputy Mayor for Policing Stephen Greenhalgh, to reduce the Metropolitan Police’s property costs by around 30% by 2016.
The strategy forms part of MOPAC’s plan to meet £500m of funding cuts over the next three years.
Plans to close the front counters have been condemned by some London Assembly members and local politicians who fear they will reduce access to police and deter crime reporting.
However MOPAC says the current buildings are underused and the Met has promised that everyone wanting to report a crime will be able to have a home visit from officers.
MOPAC has also said that closure of the buildings will help preserve frontline officer numbers while also enabling investment in new facilities including replacement front counter services in other Met or public sector buildings and 1,000 modern cells.
In a document authorising the marketing and sale of the thirty six buildings, Deputy Mayor Greenhalgh has reminded officials of the need to deliver value for taxpayers.
The document notes that “prevailing market conditions” mean MOPAC is likely to receive conditional offers for the properties, with bids subject to the granting of planning consent by local councils.
However officials have been reminded that MOPAC has a policy of not soliciting such bids which, the document says, carry a number “a high degree of risk” and delay the receipt of funds while planning consent is sought.
The authorisation document warns that where planning consent is not given, “the purchaser will either seek to renegotiate the purchase price…or may withdraw from the purchase altogether.”
Successful buyers will be expected to agree to a claw-back clause allowing MOPAC to benefit from any increase in value should they sell the property within an agreed period of time for more than they paid MOPAC.