Plans for Eastern Police Base in Middlesex Street Estate

CITY OF LONDON: Plans for eastern police base in estate raises concerns
Credit LDR

The City of London Police force may soon be occupying a new ‘Eastern Base’, as plans to move into the Middlesex Street Estate are due to go before the Corporation next week.

The proposal, which involves allocating some of the existing parking spaces for the police, has however been subject to some push-back by residents, over worries including a potential increase in noise and disruption. One person living on the estate said she is concerned the move would make the area more unsafe, adding she “just wished it wasn’t going to happen”.

Temporary Commander Rob Atkin MBE, City of London Police, said the proposed base will provide “a continued policing presence” in the area, and would be occupied by officers from local and community teams.

In a report prepared ahead of next week’s (February 13) planning meeting, at which a decision on the scheme will be agreed, Corporation officers wrote there is a ‘significant’ demand for police in the east of the City, in part due to offences committed at night. The City of London, which is the applicant having filed the submission on behalf of the police, added this is only going to be reinforced by the planned closure of Bishopsgate Police Station, due to shut once the new HQ in Salisbury Square opens in 2026.

While alternative sites were considered, the space in the Middlesex Street Estate was deemed the most appropriate, with some police activity already based there. The proposed new base will not act as a front desk, but will instead be available for officers to report to before going out on jobs.

If approved, the scheme will involve the removal of six retail units, the majority of which have already relocated, as well as a gym. The police will also take on some of the car parking spaces currently reserved for residents, though documents indicate there would still be more than enough capacity for those living in the estate. Improvements are also planned for the residents’ parking area, such as introducing CCTV and new surfacing.

As well as the new base, the proposal includes additional landscaping, such as new bollards and planting, and works to the podium in the centre of the estate, plus new community space.

‘I just wished it wasn’t going to happen’

As part of the planning process, a public consultation was carried out seeking feedback on the scheme. A total of 74 objections were received, including representations from the Petticoat Square Holders Association and the Middlesex Estate Residents Association, citing potential issues from the impacts on traffic to noise.

One resident living in the Middlesex Street Estate, who did not wish to be named, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) they were not overly concerned about the loss of the shops or the potential noise from the base, depending what time of day any disruption occurred. On the parking spaces, they said for people who own cars, or who have family coming to visit, it may have an impact. “I don’t drive, so it doesn’t really concern me,” she added.

Another resident, Julia Mason, 57, said she had a number of concerns about the proposal. Firstly, she said she was worried it would result in the area becoming less safe, and that the base would become a potential target for crime. Another of her concerns related to the reduction in car parking spaces, as she and her husband require their vehicles to transport their disabled son.

“If I’m taking my son out or my husband is taking our son out, we definitely need that,” she said.

“I just wished it wasn’t going to happen, to be honest,” she added. “We are not even going to be able to use it as a police station.”

“[We’ve] been here a long time, and it would be nice to have a bit of peace and just enjoy it.”

The question of safety was also raised during the consultation process, with one respondent saying they were concerned the base would heighten the security risk for the estate. The response from officers, included in the planning documents, read: “The proposal is considered to improve security due to the police presence. The Applicant has confirmed that the threat level would not be considered high.”

On the potential noise issues, an impact assessment indicated this would not increase significantly, when compared with the site’s existing use.

One local shopkeeper, who wished to remain anonymous, said for them the proposed base was welcome, partly on safety grounds. “When you have a police station next door, and you own a store, it improves a lot,” they said.

Commander Rob Atkin MBE, City of London Police, said: “The proposed redevelopment seeks to provide a continued policing presence in the east of the City after Bishopsgate Police Station closes and we move to a new police headquarters over in Salisbury Square.

“The ‘Eastern Base’ forms part of our estates plan and would be occupied by uniformed officers from local and community policing, who report to the base and go out on patrol to serve the community.”

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