Youngsters from a local primary school and North Wales’s policing chief were the first to get a sneak preview behind the scenes of a new eco-friendly police station.
As a former police inspector Arfon Jones, the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, was familiar with the antiquated high rise premises in Wrexham but this was his first view of the state of the art eastern command and custody facility in nearby Llay.
He was joined on an Open Doors tour of the three-storey HQ for Wrexham and Flintshire by 22 Year Five and Six pupils from Park School, Llay, all in regulation hard hats, hi-vis vests, gloves and safety glasses.
When it’s fully operational up to 200 officers and staff will be based there at any one time.
The 8,680 square metre building, which will be fully operational in the autumn, is being built by leading contractors Galliford Try and has dedicated offices and facilities for 248 police officers and staff.
It has 32 cells, canteen facilities, and two gyms, one of them for conducting beep fitness tests for police officers, as well as locker rooms and garages.
It has an 80 kilowatt solar array on the roof, rainwater harvesting for washing 85 police vehicles a week, smart lighting to conserve energy and sunlight shafts to ensure those in the pre-cast internal cells get natural light.
Contractors Galliford Try are due to hand over the £16.7 million building to the force next month (May) and it is due to be operational in the autumn. After fitting it out, the overall cost will be £21.5 million.
Meanwhile, the old police station in Wrexham will be demolished and a new town centre station with a public front desk will be opened in the former Oriel Gallery.
Arfon Jones said: “The new North East Wales Divisional Headquarters 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 built for the 21st century and it will provide a wonderful working environment for our staff – far better than the town centre tower where I spent many years.
“In particular since the closure of the cells at Mold police station, prisoners from Flintshire have had to be taken to St Asaph and this will provide a much more accessible and suitable location.”
The visit was also enjoyed by the pupils with at least two being inspired by their visit to the site.
Paige Roberts, 11, said: “It’s really good and I liked the cells in particular. I would like to be in charge of a project like this and make sure everything is in the right place at the right time.
“I would like to be in the police or in the building trade. I have an auntie who drives an ambulance and another who is a police officer.”
He classmate Ffion Williams, also 11, said: “It’s a really cool building and I’m pleased it’s here in Llay.
“I enjoyed seeing the builders at work and I’d like to be a plasterer.”
Teacher Jason Whalley said: “It’s a fantastic building and quite inspiring for many of the children.
“Some of them like to get hands on and they can see that they could get into construction in the future and we have at least one future plasterer and a site manager among them.
“We’ve also been impressed by how safe the site is and how important safety is and that’s been the most important message for the pupils.”
Richard Buck, Business Development Director for Galliford Try North West, said: “The £16.7 million project here has gone really well, it’s a prestigious build and it’s on budget and on time.
There has also been a significant amount of social value generated during construction with work experience placements and apprenticeships created as well as our use of local sub-contractors and supply chains because it’s very important that local communities share in these major investments.”
As part of the Open Doors Day there were also visits to the site by Wrexham Council youth engagement team with students from Bryn Alyn High School and from the Council’s communities for work group.
Inspector Steve Owens, of North Wales Police, said; “The Open Doors events have been an excellent way of engaging with different groups and we are particularly delighted that local school children have had the opportunity to look at this important project.
“They have been able to see how the building and the land around it is being developed and to learn something about how a modern police facility will work.”