Saffron Walden Fire Station out, shops in? Talks ongoing about relocating firefighters to the edge of town

Saffron Walden Fire Station

Saffron Walden Fire Station - Credit: Archant

RELOCATING Saffron Walden Fire Station to the outskirts of town is being discussed as part of a wider proposal to expand the town’s retail areas.

The ongoing talks have thrust the vision of creating an emergency services super-hub into the spotlight after Cllr Robert Chambers, a member of the Essex Fire Authority, gave his backing to the concept.

“If we could relocate the fire station to the edge of town I think it would be excellent and I will do all I can to help facilitate it,” he said.

“In the future we might see the police move as well and it could be that an ambulance station is combined along with both the police and fire services. It would make a lot of sense.”

Fire chiefs told the Reporter there were no immediate plans to relocate but said the possibility could not be ruled out in the future.

But station officer at Saffron Walden Fire Station, Paul Curtis, said it was something he had been keen to see happen for years.

“Our location isn’t the best for Saffron Walden because of the one way system and with everybody here being retained it has become more and more difficult for firefighters to get here as the town has expanded,” he explained.

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“With more houses being built a move cannot come soon enough for us.”

Uttlesford District Council has earmarked the site of the fire station and Saffron Launderers & Dry Cleaners as a potential development opportunity in its draft Local Plan, a document which also lays out where 3,200 homes should be built over the next 13 years.

This led to a report being commissioned to calculate the viability of the idea. It states that the site could cater for one large or two smaller retail units fronting Hill Street and serviced from Gold Street.

The concept is for a mixed-use development with retail on the ground floor and residential accomodation above, along with space to the rear which could be taken up by a health centre or nursery.

However, a spokesman for the laundry said the firm had no plans to move.

Another possible retail site earmarked is on an area between Emson Close and the back of Rose and Crown Walk, including the car park to the rear of Boots and Saffron Building Society.