Warning over plans for joint police and fire HQ

Axminster councillor says putting both emergency services on a busy housing estate could lead to dangerous delays

Plans to combine Axminster’s emergency services in a single building on a busy housing estate have set alarm bells ringing.

Fire chiefs have applied for permission to extend their HQ at Lyme Close and provide an office for the local police.

But town and district councillor Douglas Hull thinks the plan is short-sighted and could put lives at risk.

He says traffic congestion on the narrow roads around the fire station is only going to get worse and the service should be looking to relocate nearer the existing police station, closer to the main Lyme Road.

Devon Fire and Rescue Service’s planning application is for a two-storey extension to provide more accommodation, a widened appliance bay, lecture room, office, changing room and toilets. There would also be a new training tower.

It says: “The extension and alterations are required to enable the fire station to meet current policies relating to community access, health and safety, dignity at work and disability discrimination.”

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Fire chiefs say the extension would also include provision of office accommodation for use by the local police.

But Cllr Hull says he will strongly oppose the application when it goes before East Devon District Council.

He said it failed to take account of the growing traffic congestion in Lyme Close and the town’s planned expansion to the north.

He said: “We have to plan our facilities not just for 10 years aged but for the next 30 to 40 years.

“The majority of houses and people living in Axminster will be on the Chard side. The fire brigade should join the police at the present police station area thus giving them instant access to all points of call.

“The route through Foxhill in bad winter weather is not possible and with parked cars not easy at any time. The site opposite the fire station is also being developed for housing, so putting more vehicle movement on this hill.”

Cllr Hull said that vehicles used by firefighters answering a ‘shout’, as well as police and private cars, would only add to congestion in the area if the scheme went ahead.

“The private parking along the road between the present fire and police stations – night and day – turns this road into a single track,” he added.a