Police station fails to sell at auction

Auctioner and director of Pugh and Co Paul Thompson. (S)
Auctioner and director of Pugh and Co Paul Thompson. (S)

A landmark police station which has stood for decades in Harrogate’s town centre has failed to sell at auction.

The old Harrogate Police Station on North Park Road, which has stood on the site since the 1930s, was up for auction in Leeds today with a reserve of £1.9m.

Hundreds of people went to the auction at Elland Road in Leeds today. (S)

Hundreds of people went to the auction at Elland Road in Leeds today. (S)

A tense auction saw three bidders raise the stakes from £1m to £1.4m but it wasn’t enough to secure a future for the old police base which will now go back to the sellers’ books.

“It attracted some interesting bids,” said auctioneer and director of managing company Pugh and Co, Paul Thompson, who said it was still a positive event.

“We had three or four bidders in the arena. Even though it didn’t reach its reserve, when there’s interest like that, they often sell afterwards.”

Great crowds had filled the Lorimer Suite rooms at Elland Road for the start of the auction at 2pm.

There were initially 45 lots across the region up for sale but Harrogate Police Station, with a reserve of £1.9m, was always the star of the show.

With its central location, its reserve had been branded “a steal” by residents in Harrogate who have been waiting to hear what would become of the familiar landmark.

And as bidding began at £1m, utter silence descended on the room as everyone fell still to see what would happen.

Two men began to bid, taking the price up £100,000 and then £50,000 at a time, before a third man entered the race to take it to £1.4m.

But it wasn’t enough to sell and the gavel did not fall.

Auctioneers Pugh said it will now approach those who placed bids, as well as others who had expressed an interest, to see if a deal can be reached.

One bidder, Graeme Lee, group chairman of the Springfield Healthcare Group, said he was still very interested.

His plans, he revealed to the Advertiser, would see the old building converted into a “care village” for the elderly and dementia sufferers.

“I want to make it into a lovely, beautiful care village,” he said, speaking to the Advertiser after the auction.

“It’s ideal for a community base, although I want to change it quite a bit.”

The site’s brief online listing describes “vacant freehold former police station on a site of approximately 0.57 hectares (1.4 acres) with potential for development”.

It goes on to outline a “vacant two storey former police station with extensions to the rear set in landscaped grounds” along with car parking and “a detached former three bedroom house.” Controversy flared over the site last year after plans to level the building and create a purpose-built home for Harrogate Borough Council were dashed by English Heritage.

The building became Grade II listed in September, meaning the council’s plans for a new headquarters had to be abandoned.

Mr Lee, who is now in contact with North Yorkshire Police to express further interest in the site, hadn’t even toured the old police station before putting in his bid of £1.2m.

“There was so little time since it was advertised,” he said. “I’ve had a look outside.

“I would set up a base establishing care for patients from day care to dementia care, including nursing and end of life care and providing a pathway for them at one site.

“It would be for a community based service that Harrogate desperately needs.”