Monday, 1 August 2011

Warwickshire Police HQ Woodcote House to Possible Retirement Village - Just an Idea?

It was reported last week from a Warwickshire Police Press Release (25 July 2011) that plans were to be unveiled to transform the former Police HQ Woodcote House into a Retirement village. The usual news gathers like BBC Coventry and Warwickshire reported what they knew.

But when wiK visited on Friday afternoon, we were not allowed to take any photos of the display and plans. No printed material was available, like artists impressions, and the display was not available on the web. In my view, this leads to more questions than answers. 

Warwickshire Police and the architects defended their decision by saying they did not want the public getting the wrong idea of what may happen as this was just an idea. I did say I believe members of the public to be highly intelligent and would not jump to conclusions.  

WDC Planning 6 July 2011
Warwickshire Police Properties and Boughton Butler Architects insist this was an exhibition to inform the local community of Leek Wootton (not Kenilworth) how a Retirement Village may affect them. We also understand households in Leek Wootton were leaflet dropped with an invitation and enclosing a small diagram.

When asked if Warwickshire Police are now in the Retirement Business, Warwickshire Police Properties replied they were not, but were exploring responsible ways to develop the site. They do not want to just hammer a For Sale sign in at Woodcote House, agree a price and walk away

We are told, the police taking an interest in Woodcote's future has lead to exporing idea and seeking outline planning permission for a retirement home is one way to do this. For any member of the public, the story must be how this activity fits in with openness and transparency. Kenilworth Police Station has also been sold (to the local Town Council), but Warwickshire Police has Sold-it-as-Seen and not shown any interest in it's redevelopment.

It seems, I've not been the only person to ask how an exhibition for fours hours on a Friday afternoon, with no supporting material and no flexibility for the Warwickshire People to find out more may be seen as odd. For such a high profile building and a police force that never seems to be out of the news, I cannot believe such a short press release was issued. 

If you missed that first news in January 2010: see Police HQ to be sold and  Police v Pawnbroker.

Post Update (7.25pm): You can find the WDC Planning Archive for Woodcote and CV35 7QB at WDC Planning Search. This includes Demolition of wing adjoining Woodcote and other curtilage buildings granted on 6 July 2011. 

The white building is the Police Communications building that may stay operational after the Woodcote sale. I will update this post when the WDC planning application is submitted. Any questions, leave a comment.

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