Discovery of the protected great crested newt has brought work on Ryder Architecture’s Durham police station to a halt
Durham police said the new, ‘cost-efficient’ building at Aykley Heads is set to save them £2,000 per day, which means the delays have already cost the force around £200,000 according to the AJ’s sister publication Construction News.
Planning permission was granted for the new headquarters in June and contractor Kier was hoping to complete the scheme by spring 2014. However, according to a spokesperson, the completion date has already been set back from spring to summer.
As part of the planning process an ecology study was carried out which found ‘evidence of the presence of newts’. An application outlining mitigation measures has been with Natural England since 17 December.
Assistant Chief Officer Gary Ridley said: ‘The quicker we start building, the quicker we save money but unfortunately we are in the hands of a statutory agency.
‘We are sitting here with a scheme, ready to go and are waiting for a licence to be granted so we can mobilise the contractor to start the work.’
Ridley said the current HQ costs the force around £1.6 million annually and the new smaller HQ will save around £750,000 per year.
The force said building work will most probably start six to seven weeks after the licence has been issued.
A Natural England spokesman said: ‘We are treating this case as the highest priority.’