New Surrey Police headquarters and operational base site purchased in Leatherhead

A new Surrey Police headquarters and operational base will be created in Leatherhead following the successful purchase of a site in the town - and the Force hopes to move in around Spring/Summer 2024.

The former Electrical Research Association (ERA) and Cobham Industries site on Cleeve Road has been bought to replace a number of existing sites, including the current HQ at Mount Browne in Guildford, following a detailed search to identify a location in a more central area of Surrey. 

The new site will become an operational hub housing specialist teams as well as chief officers and senior leadership team, support, corporate functions and training facilities. It will replace the existing Mount Browne HQ and Woking Police Station in addition to replacing Reigate Police Station as the main Eastern divisional base. Neighbourhood Policing Teams will continue to operate from all eleven boroughs including Woking and Reigate.

Further sites at Burpham and Godstone where the Roads Policing Team and Tactical Firearms Unit are based will also be moved to the new location. 

The sale of those five sites will fund a significant proportion of the cost of buying and developing the new Leatherhead base and the Force hopes the new building will be fully operational in around four to five years’ time. The Cleeve Road site, which covers around 10 acres, has cost £20.5m to purchase.  

The move is part of an extensive estates project to deliver long-term savings by moving out and disposing of some of the current outdated and costly buildings.  

In their place, an efficient estate will be created that will allow the Force to work in new ways and meet the challenges of modern policing. The new site will also benefit from being a more central location in the county in close proximity to the M25 and the town’s railway station. 

The new HQ will also provide a central Surrey hub for Roads Policing and Tactical Firearms teams. Guildford and Staines police stations will be retained, accommodating Western and Northern divisional teams. 

PCC David Munro said: “This is really exciting news and heralds the start of a new chapter in the proud history of Surrey Police. 

“The search for a new site has been long and complex so I am delighted we have now completed the deal and can start making detailed plans that will shape the future of policing in this county. 

“The most important factor for me is that we provide value for money and deliver an even better service to the public. We have looked carefully at the budget for the project and even taking into account the inevitable relocation costs involved, I am satisfied this investment will provide savings in the long-term. 

“A police force’s most valuable asset is of course the officers and staff that work around the clock to keep our county safe and this move will provide them with a much better working environment and support.

“Some of our current buildings, including the Mount Browne HQ site, are outdated, poor quality, in the wrong place and expensive to manage and maintain. Mount Browne will remain the Force HQ until the Leatherhead site is fully up and running when it will then be disposed of. It has been at the heart of policing in this county for almost 70 years but we must now look to the future and have a unique opportunity to design a new policing base fit for a modern day police force.  

“I am well aware of the value Surrey residents place on local policing and I want to reassure people living in Woking and Reigate that our local neighbourhood presence in those communities will not be affected by these plans. 

“Whilst the announcement of this deal marks an important milestone, there is much now to do of course and the real hard work starts now.”  

Temporary Chief Constable Gavin Stephens said: “A state of the art operational base and HQ will enable us to better meet the challenges of modern policing, allow us to be innovative and ultimately provide an even better policing service for the Surrey public. 

"Surrey Police has ambitious plans for the future and we’re investing in our people by providing the right training, technology and working environment to meet modern policing challenges.

“Our existing sites are expensive to run and restrict the way we work. Over the coming years we’ll provide our teams with workplaces they can be proud of.

“Our changes in location will not alter how we respond to, work with, and consider ourselves a part of, Surrey’s many communities. These plans reflect our ambition to be an outstanding force and our commitment to providing high quality policing in the heart of our communities.”

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Many of the teams that will re-locate to Leatherhead are central Surrey-wide teams, or work on behalf of the Eastern division as a whole (covering Reigate and Banstead, Mole Valley, Epsom and Ewell and Tandridge local authority areas) so a new base for these teams will not affect the service the public receive. 

All Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Safer Neighbourhood Teams will continue to operate from each of the county’s boroughs as they currently do.  

The aim was to find a site that provides good access to the main road network as well as public transport and local amenities.   

Our intention is that a new site will replace Mount Browne, Reigate and Woking Police Stations and the sites at Godstone and Burpham, all of which will be sold to help fund the new facility.   

Following our announcement of finding a suitable site in March 2019, we expect the design and planning process to take 18 to 24 months, possibly longer - and then a further two years is then likely to be required for construction.

So our expectation at this stage is that it will be Spring/Summer of 2024 before we are able to move from our existing sites. 

A review identified the Mount Browne, Reigate and Woking sites as providing particularly poor value and unlikely to meet the future needs of modern policing.  Working environments are poor and these buildings are costly to run.  

A number of factors were and the decision was ratified by the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Force’s Chief Officers.  

A central Surrey site in the Dorking/Leatherhead area will ensure that our specialist and support teams have good road access to respond to demand across the county. This location will also facilitate stronger links with our partner forces across the South East and ensure that we are able to maximise opportunities arising as we move towards greater cross-region collaboration. A further benefit is that a site in this area enables us to co-locate the replacement eastern division hub with the new HQ, reducing the costs involved and enabling us to maximise savings in our estate running costs.  

The front counter service at Woking Police Station will move into the borough council offices before the station is closed. Similarly a replacement front counter will be provided within Reigate and Banstead borough, though it has not been confirmed where this will be at this stage.

The plans will not affect local response times as Neighbourhood Policing Teams will continue to be based within their boroughs. Response times for more specialist, force-wide teams should see an overall improvement as the new site is more optimally based to serve the whole county.

We are at the early stages of our journey and have not yet appointed a contractor to build the new facility. Our expectation at this stage is that it will be Spring/Summer of 2024 before we are able to move from our existing sites.

The new building will house a whole range of corporate and support departments as well as force-wide specialist operational teams. It will also act as the main hub for the Eastern division policing teams. It is anticipated that in the region of 1800 officers and staff will be based there but many work shifts and others will have the ability to work from other sites or from home so the number on site at any one time will be significantly less than this

The proposals do not affect local policing and there will be no impact on police visibility or the way the public access police services. 

It’s too early at this stage to say exactly what will happen but we would hope to be able to re-create the Memorial Garden at the new site. We know that the Memorial Garden and a number of memorial trees mean a lot to people and we will ensure that we consult with staff to work out how best to deal with them in a sensitive way. 

Vacating these sites is still a long way off but we understand that many employees have a strong attachment to them and we will consider how best to recognise this and enable people to say goodbye before we move on to a new chapter in our history.