Why Dewsbury was picked as site of new police base instead of Huddersfield

Granting of planning permission for a new police headquarters in Dewsbury has ended a 15-year search to find a suitable site for the premises in Kirklees.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 4:00 pm
A design for what will be West Yorkshire Police’s new district headquarters for Kirklees on the former Kirklees College site in Dewsbury

A new district police headquarters will be built on the site of the former Kirklees College.

The campus on Halifax Road will be demolished except for the 1880s Oldroyd Building, which will be turned into offices.

The new West Yorkshire Police HQ will include a 30-cell custody suite and a multi-storey car park with 200 spaces.

The creation of the new HQ means the closure of the existing Huddersfield Station on Albion Street.

The force will retain a base in the town at the now vacant Nissan and Fiat car dealership plot at Broadway, opposite Tesco, on the ring road off Southgate.

Kirklees commander, Chief Superintendent Julie Sykes, said keeping open both existing stations was not viable as they had reached the end of their functional life and were “not fit” for modern day policing.

She said the new base represented the end of a 15-year search during which WYP had tried and failed to secure premises within Huddersfield town centre.

That may have been a reference to the force allegedly being snubbed by Kirklees Council, which wanted a key site once occupied by the old Huddersfield Sports Centre to go to the University of Huddersfield.

In August that parcel of land was given over to an eight-storey national health and research innovation campus which will cost £40m.

Speaking at a meeting of Kirklees Council’s strategic planning meeting, Chief Supt. Sykes said: “A key objective was to have the district headquarters within or on the inner ring road in Huddersfield.

“The initial site search resulted in very limited options. In fact, only one was deemed fit for purpose. However West Yorkshire Police were unable to acquire this site.

“As a result, the geographic area considered for new premises was expanded considerably.

"Between 2016 and 2020, 34 sites across Kirklees of various sizes and locations were assessed including a number that were owned and put forward by Kirklees Council.”

That delay meant Kirklees fell behind neighbouring Leeds and Wakefield, both of which secured state-of-the-art headquarters much quicker.

The Halifax Road plot on the outskirts of Dewsbury was chosen due to its proximity to the town centre, as well as useful transport links.

Planning officer Kate Mansell showed images of Cambridge University and the Imperial War Museum to illustrate how the new largely brick-built HQ might look.

Councillors were broadly supportive of the scheme but asked that a multi-storey car park to the rear of the site should be somehow “disguised” to blend in with older buildings in the area.

Coun Donna Bellamy (Con, Colne Valley) was the only committee member to vote against the plan.

She said a combined base incorporating the existing stations in Huddersfield and Dewsbury was “quite a long way from parts of south Kirklees”.

She added: “I have a concern that if Huddersfield Station completely goes and [Dewsbury] is where the replacement is, it’s a long way to get to some of the areas in the valley.”

Ms Mansell confirmed that the force’s plan was to relocate the stations in Huddersfield and Dewsbury. She said WYP is retaining a base in Huddersfield “though it won’t be as a police station”.

The existing station on Albion Street will remain in full use while the new premises are developed and built with an estimated opening date of the new one being before the end of 2024.

Dewsbury Police Station will similarly be kept open until the new one is ready.

Both mothballed sites will then be sold off.