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Ashburton police station upgrade still up in the air

Ashburton police station upgrade still up in the air

An upgrade of Ashburton’s police station has been ruled out - for now.

In 2019, then Minister of Police Stuart Nash said police planned a major refurbishment or replacement of the existing Havelock Street police station "for approximately 2025/26”.

Police have now confirmed there are no plans to redevelop the Ashburton station and that “it remains serviceable”.

“The plans were in the very early stages, and have not progressed to an approved concept, option, or business case.

“Police has portfolio planning work under way and the Ashburton station’s future will be considered as part of that.”

The council is in the middle of vacating the Havelock Street site this month, to move into Te Whare Whakatere Ashburton Library and civic centre, and put it on the market next year.

The possibility of the Ashburton police shifting 400m up the road resurfaced, only to be deemed a non-option by police.

Ashburton station’s future will be considered as part of a wider portfolio of planning work, police said.

In 2019, Nash said an analysis of the existing building and potential future site or redevelopment options were in a preliminary stage.

He later confirmed that an initial inspection of the Ashburton District Council's headquarters had been undertaken by police's regional property manager.

During 2020, then-Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon was on Nash’s case for progress updates, and if the council building was being considered as a potential site for a new police station.

Nash responded to Falloon’s enquiries that the police were “assessing options in relation to the current Ashburton police station site and its ability to accommodate future policing services for this community”.

An assessment of the existing station building and site were due to be undertaken and completed by end of 2020, but the timing was subject to change, Nash said.

Falloon then resigned in July 2020 and the dialogue around the future of Ashburton’s police station went quiet.

Council chief executive Hamish Riach confirmed there had been discussions with NZ police.

“We understand that any change or update to their existing premises is not scheduled until 2029.

“This effectively rules them out of any serious consideration for the existing administration building site."

It still begs the question, the same one repeatedly asked by Falloon back in 2020, if the soon to be vacated council site is a viable option for an upgraded justice precinct given its location next to the courthouse

Under the Policing Act 2008, the operational and administrative decisions including decisions on the use of police resources are matters for the police commissioner, not the Ministry of Justice.

By Jonathan Leask