A new eco-friendly police station that’s been kitted out with upcycled furniture and has a host of energy-saving features has been hailed as the greenest in the UK.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones officially opened the new Eastern Command and Custody Facility in Llay and revealed that some of the refurbished desks and chairs came from the former divisional HQ in Wrexham that it’s replaced.
The state-of-the art building, costing £21.5 million, has an 80 kilowatt solar array on the roof and rainwater harvesting for washing 85 police vehicles a week.
Smart LED lighting has been installed and already the building is showing that its energy use is 50 per cent lower than equivalent older buildings.
The 8,680 square metre complex, built by leading contractors Galliford Try, has offices and facilities for 350 police officers and staff, including 32 cells, canteen facilities and two gyms as well as locker rooms and garages.
Most of the chairs and office furniture came from local suppliers, including Shire Hall in Mold and from the old police station in Wrexham, much of it refurbished and upcycled on site by South-Wales-based Orangebox, while outside seating and tables are made by people with learning disabilities at Meifod Wood Products Denbigh.
Outside special care has been taken to look after the flora and fauna which include a little-known butterfly, the dingy skipper, and wild orchids.
A single example of the dwarf helleborine orchid was spotted and saved by the Management Plan Ecologist Dr Richard Birch literally beneath the bucket of a JCB digger.
Meanwhile, the antiquated high-rise former police station in Wrexham is due to be demolished and a new town centre station with a public front desk will be opened in the former Oriel Gallery in the town centre.
The commissioner, a former police inspector, said: “I am delighted that we have a state of the art, eco-friendly 21st century building that is fit for the duties and responsibilities of modern policing.
“Nearly 90 per cent of the furniture was refurbished or remanufactured. 40 tonnes of CO2e greenhouse gas emissions and avoiding 26 tonnes of waste, saving £300,000 compared to the average cost of mid-range furniture.
“It is vitally important that we ensure that our new buildings are as energy efficient and as environmentally friendly as possible and I believe that this is now the most environmentally friendly police station in the UK.
“It is a wonderful facility and to be able to house the staff for Wrexham and Flintshire in one purpose-built location is excellent.
“It has been future-proofed and will provide a wonderful working environment for our staff – far better than the town centre tower where I spent many years.
“So many people have been involved in this project and I would like to thank every one of them, but there is one person I need to thank above all others and that is Liz Bryan the Project Manager. Liz has been living and breathing this build for years, her dedication and professionalism has not gone unnoticed.”
The VIP guests, including some of Mr Jones’s former colleagues from when he was stationed at the old Wrexham police station, were entertained by a school choir from Ysgol Glanrafon, in Mold before the plaque was unveiled by the commissioner who was accompanied by Chief Constable Carl Foulkes.
Chief Constable Foulkes said: “This has been an amazing project resulting in a fantastic new facility which will make such a difference to policing in the area.
“With administrative offices, key policing functions and a state of the art custody suite now ideally located to serve Flintshire and Wrexham, I am delighted that we have a facility which enables us to meet the demands of a modern police environment.
“I am also looking forward to the opening of our new Wrexham town centre station later this year. This will be the base for our response officers, community support officers and neighbourhood team as well as providing a front counter service for the public.”
North Wales Police Environmental and Energy Conservation Manager Anna Pretious said: “We project a £10,000 a year saving on energy costs with 10 per cent of the electricity generated by solar power and 80 per cent of the rest from other renewable sources.
“We harvest rainwater into an 18,000 litre tank which is enough to wash 136 vehicles and on the site we have a sustainable drainage system with two ponds to collect the run-off and prevent flooding and other ponds to encourage bio-diversity.
“As a force we have been taking wildlife and bio-diversity very seriously for 20 years and here we had habitat and geological surveys done by Dr Birch which showed there was a mosaic of habitats here which have been protected during and after construction.
“As well as Dr Birch we now have the site managed by Ecological Land Management whose offices can be seen from the site and this has given us continuity and consistency in our approach.
“For many years now the preservation of wildlife has been part and parcel of our thinking.”
Other rare plants on site include the pennyroyal and five species of orchid while there are also great crested newts and the site has been planted with oak, birch and willow and wildlife-friendly flower beds.
An ecology corridor has been established to allow wildlife to move freely past the site to the hedges by the main road to the industrial estate while during construction, the development team donated rescued orchids to planting projects at Wrexham Prison and to the Orchids for Schools Project.
Later this month, on Saturday, May 18, the site will host the Bio Blitz from 10am to 2pm when members of the public are invited to join in a wildlife survey of the site.
Anna Pretious added: “This is a first for any police force and is very much a pioneering event.
“We’re hoping to have up to 50 people here with us to conduct what is basically a census of what’s here in the way of wildlife.”