POLICE are hoping to cash in on an urban revival in Newton Aycliffe by putting the town centre station up for sale.

Durham Constabulary is testing the property market by offering the station for sale - a move which could be the catalyst for an overhaul of the force's estate.

Proposals for Newton Aycliffe are part of a review of the force's property that will lead to a strategy blueprint for the future use of all its buildings.

Chief Constable Paul Garvin said the decision to consider a sell-off was a 'clear opportunity' generated by proposals for a major re-development of the whole town centre.

Mr Garvin said: "We are not desperate to sell and at this stage we are offering the land and buildings on the open market to see what they might fetch.

"Opportunities like this make sound business sense and would make us better able to deliver the kind of front-line policing service the public expects."

If the building is sold, cash from the sale will bankroll a move to a new super station in the town similar to the relocation of Peterlee station, which made way for a supermarket in 2001.

Plans for a new local headquarters include a large cell complex, equipped with CCTV and monitoring equipment.

Facilities for handling prisoners and preparing cases for court would be better, and so would links between departments such as CID and uniformed officers .

Police authority chairman county councillor Anne Wright said: "The public can rest assured the number of operational officers on the streets of the town would not be cut and we would not move out of Aycliffe police station until suitable replacement premises were ready and available."

Julie Wallin, director of chartered surveyors Carver Commercial in Newton Aycliffe, believes demand will be high.

"Redevelopment sites in and around Aycliffe are fetching very good prices. The station is in a prime location, it fronts the shopping centre and is close to the new developments which are attracting the interest of developers.

"Commercial interest goes hand in hand with the strength of the residential market, more and more houses are being built which means the area is buoyant," she said.