Police chiefs are lining up a flit from their crumbling Angus headquarters in the heart of Forfar to an edge of town office arrangement with Angus Council.
Faced with a million pound bill to bring the sprawling offices at West High Street up to scratch, the force is putting the finishing touches to a business case for a move into office space at St Margaret’s House.
The proposed premises are at the local authority’s Orchardbank business park HQ, next to the A90 Dundee to Aberdeen dual carriageway.
Tayside’s police commander has stressed the commitment of the force to maintaining a Forfar presence, but there are already concerns over the move from the heart of the town.
Earlier this year, Chief Superintendent Andrew Todd said the force was facing the prospect of vacating monolithic buildings which were no longer fit for purpose, but insisted that would not mean officers moving out of towns.
St Margaret’s has now emerged as the prime Police Scotland target for the relocation and a dossier detailing the potential advantages is being prepared for Tayside and national force figureheads.
Mr Todd told the latest meeting of Angus Council’s scrutiny and audit committee: “We are committed to staying in the Forfar community.
“Partnerships and cost savings are an important element – we believe there is suitable accommodation for us in the area, but there needs to be more than that, we want to see some operational benefit.
However, he acknowledged: “This is a market town and if we come out of the centre of town we leave a bit of a hole.”
“I intend to lead some paperwork around our ambition to the force executive and the SPA (Scottish Police Authority) and when they are content we will engage more formally with the local authority to get costings.”
Mr Todd had previously declared: “The traditions of a big, monolithic police station within the centre of a town with officers working from it to the exclusion of anything else that’s happening has probably had its day.”
Police Scotland confirmed negotiations surrounding a possible move were ongoing.
North east region Conservative MSP Bill Bowman has said it is crucial the force undertakes a full public consultation before committing to the move.
“It is important to note Police Scotland are committed to Forfar and Angus,” he said.
“I sympathise with anyone who wants to see a police building near the high street. It can be symbolic.
“That’s why it’s important people have their say on the changes in the coming weeks, when Police Scotland launch their consultation,” added Mr Bowman.
Former stations in Letham and Muirhead, as well as Bridge of Earn and Kincardine, Cardenden and Rosyth in Fife, were also put up for sale earlier this year after Police Scotland carried out a review of its estate to identify buildings surplus to requirements.
An Angus Council spokesman said: “We are in positive discussions with Police Scotland regarding their business needs.
“As valued members of the community planning partnership we are working together to focus on how we can improve outcomes for the people of Angus.
“Better use of back office functions will allow us to work more closely together and deliver for the people of Angus.”