THE former Northumbria Police headquarters in Ponteland have been sold for £21m.

The force and its Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, confirmed the sale of the site which will be used to create new homes.

The money from the sale will go towards supporting the force following the announcement it had faced £150m worth of Government cuts in recent years.

Previously to the site being used as the base for the police, it was used as a children’s home for more than 300 occupants before being transformed into a teacher training college.

Dame Vera said: “The Ponteland site holds memories not just as a base for policing but as it was utilised during the war, then became a teacher training college and latterly a police headquarters. It’s had many uses over the years, but didn’t fit the needs of modern day policing.

“Tough negotiations took place to ensure the best price possible was received and every penny is going back into policing.

“Central government cuts to our budget has meant that difficult decisions have had to be taken.

“The money raised goes nowhere near covering the £150m cut from Northumbria Police since 2010 but it does ensure that we can remain focused on delivering the priorities set out in the Police and Crime plan.”

Chief Const. Winton Keenen said: “We relocated much of our resource from Ponteland some time ago to ensure we could best serve our communities, whilst at the same time wrestling with the significant levels of financial cuts we continue to experience.

“This does close a chapter for Northumbria Police but ensures we give ourselves the best opportunity to tackle the challenges of the future.”

A memorial garden previously located in the headquarters has already been moved to Middle Engine Lane, in Wallsend, which became the official new Northumbria Police HQ in 2016.

John Leslie, estates manager for Northumbria Police, said “Ensuring our buildings are fit for purpose is incredibly important.

“Older buildings cost a lot to maintain and we continue to work to ensure that our estate delivers value for money and best serves staff and the public.”