Fringe Box



Plans for Mount Browne Redevelopment – “We’re Not Chopping Down a Single Tree” Says PCC

Published on: 8 Aug, 2023
Updated on: 8 Aug, 2023

The old house at Mount Browne with newer annexe on the right. PCC Lisa Townsend is centre, in the camel coat. Image taken during recruits’ swearing-in ceremony in March.

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Early plans for the future of Surrey Police’s headquarters have been revealed.

Mount Browne, which has been the force’s HQ since 1949, sits just outside Guildford town centre, within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Outline plan of the site on the southwest edge of Guildford town.

A small part of the site will be sold off, while the rest will be redeveloped, relocating the contact centre, dog training school, office space and car parking.

A central feature of the headquarters is the locally listed, 19th-century building known as the Old House.

Its former owner, Lord Sligo, was responsible for the renaming of the site to its current name, in memory of his family home in Ireland.

From the Surrey Police presentation.

When the planning application comes to Guildford Borough Council, the force hopes to submit before the end of 2023 for a decision in early 2024, considerations will include the neighbouring St Catherine’s Conservation Area and ancient woodland on the site.

There are also tree preservation orders on other woodland at Mount Browne, and Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner said the site would stay “very leafy”.

Lisa Townsend told the LDRS: “We’re not chopping down a single tree.”

She said the force and her office had been working “incredibly closely” with Guildford Borough Council on the early stages of the plans for work, which will be phased over three to four years.

Image showing existing and proposed site plans. Click on image to enlarge.

With some of the buildings on site “not fit for purpose”, and much of the force’s estate not being used “as efficiently as it could be”, Mrs Townsend said parts of the redeveloped site would feel like a university campus.

And she said the decision to stay at Mount Browne, rather than relocate to a Leatherhead site bought by the force in 2019, was the “easiest decision” she would take as PCC.

She said: “It was overwhelmingly what staff and officers wanted.

“It was considerably better value for the taxpayer and from a wellbeing point of view: we put our officers and our staff, particularly our contact centre staff through an awful lot.

“We owe them decent facilities for that.”

Click on image to enlarge.

She said redevelopment would also offer the opportunity to put modern and purpose-built accommodation on the new site, to be able to offer homes to officers in Surrey.

PCC Lisa Townsend Photo Darren Pepe.

Mrs Townsend said: “I want officers’ lives to be able to grow with the force, as they move through.”

The public can comment on plans as part of a pre-application consultation on the Surrey Police website until midnight on Friday, August 11.

There will be a further round of consultation for people to share their views as part of the planning process after the application has been submitted to Guildford Borough Council.

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Responses to Plans for Mount Browne Redevelopment – “We’re Not Chopping Down a Single Tree” Says PCC

  1. Keith Francis Reply

    August 8, 2023 at 2:50 pm

    Thank you Guildford Dragon and LDRS for covering this development of the Surrey Police headquarters at Mount Browne.

    It is disappointing and raises two questions:

    – Does Surrey Police still own the Leatherhead site bought with a mortgage in 2019 and what now are the plans for it?
    The local resident’s “consultation” event was on Saturday 29 July 2023 and we are only given until this Friday 11 August 2023, that’s less than 2 weeks, to submit any comments which is nowhere near long enough.

    – What will happen to the Surrey Police Museum in which there are two items I donated?

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