Plans for major new police headquarters in the Black Country given the go-ahead
Plans for a new police headquarters in the Black Country, providing a base for 422 staff and officers, have been given the go-ahead.
Carl Mellor, head of planning at Dudley Council, has approved the conversion of Castlegate House on the edge of Dudley town centre into a 'super police station' serving the whole of the borough.
It will be the first time there has been a police station in Dudley town centre since the station in New Street closed in 2017.
The new base will replace Brierley Hill police station, which is due to close by the end of next year.
A report by planning officer Richard Stevenson said a total of 422 staff and officers would be based in the building, off Castlegate Island, with up to two-thirds on duty at any one time.
The new station will include a front desk open to the public, meeting rooms for officers and an interview room. But there will be no cells for prisoners.
Mr Mellor ruled that the lack of custody cells meant the plans could be fast-tracked as a 'lawful development', without having to go through the full planning process as the building would still be for predominantly office use.
Mr Stevenson said that in a previous case in London, the presence of the front counter had been deemed to represent a change of use.
However, he said in this case, the size of the building, which would be predominantly used for administrative purposes, meant that it could still be classified as an office building.
West Midlands police and crime commissioner Simon Foster announced last month the proposals to move Dudley's police base from Brierley Hill to Castlegate House.
At the moment the building is home to classic car insurance broker Footman James, which has a lease on the building until November 2024.
Brierley Hill's neighbourhood policing team will remain in the town though, with a new base in the area being sought.
Dudley North MP Marco Longhi, who pledged to campaign for a new police station when he was elected in 2019, welcomed the development.
He said the lack of a visible police presence in the town was something that was regularly brought up at his advice surgeries.
“The new station will mean faster response rates and a greater police presence to tackle the issues we are seeing, particularly in the town centre and on the High Street.” he said.