14 February 2024

Police and ESA could share headquarters in city, says Barr

| Ian Bushnell
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The ageing City Police Station. It is earmarked to be replaced through co-location with a new police headquarters and possibly with emergency services as well. Photo: Albert McKnight.

The headquarters for emergency services, police and a new City Police Station could all be co-located on the one site.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said this was on the table as part of the current review of the accommodation needs for all three, which are listed in the latest sector update to the ACT Infrastructure Plan as needing new long-term accommodation.

Mr Barr said leases would be coming up for renewal, and police were growing out of the ageing Winchester Centre in Belconnen and the City Police Station, where a water leak has forced officers and staff to move temporarily to alternative locations.

“The question arose whether to co-locate emergency services and police in the city,” he said.

“Could that result in a better rental deal across the board for all three? That’s what’s being explored.”

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Mr Barr said the government was moving towards co-location for at least the police headquarters and the city station, but according to the infrastructure update, this would be more than five years away,

It was looking at the most cost-effective way to deliver that project, either through a pre-committed lease in a privately built building or the government building its own accommodation.

There were examples of police headquarters leasing space in private buildings, Mr Barr said.

“This may well enable a broader commercial or mixed-use development to occur in the city,” he said.

This would not just be accommodation for police but could also meet other demands for offices or housing in the city.

It was a model actively being considered across the ACT.

“The government doesn’t necessarily need to build and own any these buildings,” Mr Barr said.

“We’re happy to be an anchor tenant in a commercial development and that may well be a way to trigger some private sector investments and complementary activities, particularly in the town centres.”

Also listed in the infrastructure plan is the extension of the Magistrates Court or construction of a new court within 10 years to meet increasing demand.

Due to the Canberra Theatre redevelopment, the government is also exploring options for relocating the City Library on Civic Square within five years.

Mr Barr said the site had never achieved a high level of patronage and another location could do better.

The building itself will stay, and the government is looking at a refurbishment, including an entrance on the laneway side so people can walk through.

The City Services, Recreation and Community Facilities infrastructure update focuses on suburban infrastructure and several critical facilities, listing projects to be considered in the short term (up to five years), medium term (10 years), and long term (15 years).

These include precinct renewal, public amenity and recreation infrastructure such as Tuggeranong Foreshore improvements; Group Centre upgrades in Charnwood, Kippax and Dickson; new and upgraded dog parks; the historic Sydney and Melbourne Buildings precinct revitalisation; and Acton Waterfront.

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Community projects include new community centres in Gungahlin, Woden and Coombs; Molonglo Library and Community Facility; a new facility for Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation in Tuggeranong; and a new RSPCA facility in Pialligo.

Justice and emergency services projects include emergency services in the Molonglo Valley, a new fire and ambulance station in Acton, the Joint Emergency Service Centre in Gungahlin, ACT Policing Headquarters and City Station and improvements at the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

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I know the city police station has to be relocated somewhere in the city for obvious reasons, but both the ESA HQ and Police HQ dont have to be located in the city. How about either Tuggers or Gungahlin…. oh thats right they only get token ACT govt buildings and everything needs to be in the city

Why would they try to save money. Police station will probably be on the 50th story penthouse

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