Police and a city centre developer have been strongly urged to reached an agreement over plans for a 15 storey tower which it is claimed is a threat to national security.
The council’s planning committee have given a partial approval to Chatham Billingham’s plans for the former Post and Mail print works site in Weaman Street.
But West Midlands Police fears the tower, across the street from its Lloyd House headquarters will block essential and secure radio communications from its rooftop antennae.
The proposed high-rise tower, which could be a hotel, offices or, apartments is a second phase of a development. The first, also approved, includes restaurants, shops and a six-level, 800 space, underground car park.
A spokesman for the developer said that an agreement was reached with police earlier this week and then altered and withdrawn at the 11th hour. He claimed: “We have never been given any technical information to assess the impact on police radio communications.”
The police stood by their objection, the committee was told. But fears that tower block occupants could spy on police offices were dismissed.
However, instead of allowing the tower to rise 195 metres above sea level, councillors set a 185 metre limit and said it must gain police agreement if it wants top two stories.
Council director of regeneration Waheed Nazir, who proposed the compromise, said that the development is crucial to the economic growth of the Snow Hill area .
Coun Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood) was concerned that if the radio mast had to be moved it should be paid for by the developer.
He said: “It isn’t just the height of the building, but its nearness to Lloyd House Police radio transmissions and all that Secret Squirrel MI5 stuff would get disrupted.
“If the antennae does need to be moved, I don’t see why the police should have to pay for it.”
The car park and shops can now be constructed and generate income for the developer so that the phase two tower block can go ahead.