APPROVAL has been given for a former Minehead day centre to be converted into a new police station.

The Seahorse Centre, in Stephenson Road, will be shared by Avon and Somerset Police with an outreach healthcare training facility as part of a Government Levelling Up-funded Bridgwater health social academy.

It was previously used as a day centre for children and young adults with disabilities.

Somerset Council planning officer Russell Williams said the day care facility loss was regrettable, but the proposed uses would retain an employment function and continue to serve a health care provision through the training use.

Outbuildings in the garden of the Seahorse Centre, which is to become a new Minehead Police Station.
Outbuildings in the garden of the Seahorse Centre, which is to become a new Minehead Police Station. (Geckoella Ltd)

Mr Russell said a hedgerow fronting Stephenson Road would be removed because of the police operational use of the building, over which concern had been expressed by town councillors.

However, he said it was not protected and could have been removed without planning permission and its loss wold not cause any significant harm to the area.

The plans included an 11-space car park in a secure compound surrounded by an eight feet high metal fence.

Town councillors were also concerned a police car wash facility could result in run-off of detergents polluting a nearby watercourse and marsh.

Mr Williams said the car wash was unlikely to impact the watercourse, although because it was close to it, the police would need to obtain a separate land drainage consent, and a planning condition would be imposed for a sealed drainage system to be used.

The council’s economic development officer, Gordon Dwyer, supported the plans, which would allow part of the building to be utilised for a much needed health-care training facility.

Mr Dwyer said: “The health care sector is a particularly important within this part of Somerset supporting the community as well as the economy with local jobs.

“The change of use will facilitate training for this sector to take place within the area, thereby supporting the development of skills required to support the local economy.”

The new police station will replace the one in Townsend Road, about a mile away, which is currently open only for part of four days a week.