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Willmott Dixon’s Merseyside Police HQ gets a socially distanced topping out

Willmott Dixon hosted the most unique topping out in its 168 year history with the event carefully planned so guests could observe strict social distancing measures.

In one of the construction industry’s first topping out events since lockdown measures were introduced to control the spread of Covid-19, visitors to Merseyside Police’s new HQ site celebrated completion of the main construction phase by watching Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy and Chief Constable Andy Cooke QPM sign the last piece of steel – all the time keeping two metres apart from each other.

Social distancing measures in place included a one-way system on staircases to the top floor as well as clear markings for two metre spacing in the site’s cabins and areas such as walkaways, allowing guests to be sufficiently spread out before, during and after the ceremony.

With the steel frame now complete, work can begin on other parts of the bespoke four-storey headquarters, which will act as Merseyside Police’s flagship base on a key gateway into Liverpool city centre, overlooking Scotland Road and the entrance to the Queensway tunnel, while helping to regenerate the Everton area.

Procured via Major Works England and Northern Ireland, a part of the Scape National Construction framework, and completed in autumn 2021, Merseyside Police’s new facility will be home for up to 1,110 police officers and staff, providing a hub for collaboration as well as creating better efficiencies by freeing up a number of leased buildings that will help the force save approximately £250,000 a year on its running costs.

Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said:

“What an achievement! Last September, the chief constable and I were here to ‘turn the first sod’ on what was a large muddy field but in a fantastic location, looking down over Liverpool city centre and the River Mersey. Less than nine months on and in spite of the complications thrown up by Covid-19, this impressive structure has come to life, acting as a proud guardian over this key gateway into the city.

“We are now a major step closer towards the completion of a brand new, much-needed Headquarters for Merseyside Police. This new Headquarters is the visible proof of the determination that the Chief Constable and I share to provide the officers and staff of Merseyside Police with the best facilities we can afford, to help them fight crime now and into the future.

“Canning Place opened its doors in 1977 and it has been a loyal servant for the last 40 years, but sadly it is no longer fit for purpose and it is very costly to run. The force needs modern facilities and equipment which will make them more effective and efficient.

“This new headquarters will do just that, saving approximately £250,000 a year in running costs compared to the existing headquarters, while helping the force to continue to protect our communities for years to come.”

Throughout the pandemic, the site has remained open and operating in line with Public Health England guidelines and in compliance with the Site Operating Procedures issued by the Construction Leadership Council.

Anthony Dillon, managing director of Willmott Dixon in the North, said:

“We’re proud to be delivering such as landmark and important project for Merseyside Police. Ensuring the Merseyside Police headquarters are future proofed for the changing complexities of modern policing is critical and this will be a quality and cost-effective environment that will serve officers, PCSOs and staff for years to come.

“We share a commitment to leaving a positive and lasting legacy in the communities and economies in which we work, which has seen us invest £23m of our project spend to date with local businesses based within 20 miles of the project.

“The safety of our site teams on site remains the highest priority to us and to reach this milestone in the current circumstances is testament to the strength of the relationships and collaboration between our team, the force and all our local supply chain partners. Over the last few months, the entire site team has been at the forefront of adapting to and innovating new ways of working and embracing technology to keep everyone safe and the project moving forward to completion.”

The new HQ for Merseyside Police is the latest in a long track of delivering blue light facilities for Willmott Dixon, having recently handed over the BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated Exeter Police Station to Devon and Cornwall Police in March.