A DERELICT Wordsley glassworks is to be transformed into a new £5.5m museum to house the borough's prized glass collection after proposals were approved by council planners this week.

Councillors on Dudley's development control committee gave the thumbs up last night (Monday) to the scheme by Complex Development Projects to turn the vandal-hit former Stuart Crystal site into a world class tourist attraction.

Members of the committee said they were delighted to approve the plan which has been on the cards for more than a decade.

Former council leader, Councillor David Caunt, said: "Thank goodness. It's taken at least ten years to get here."

Councillor Kieran Casey welcomed the plan for the listed Camp Hill site and added: "I'm very happy to see this application. It's long overdue.

"It's been a vacant site for some time now."

As well as the museum which will feature an iconic glass frontage and open courtyard, the attraction will include a canal-side restaurant/cafe, striking light sculpture marking the spot where the old White House Cone once stood, tunnels linking the facility to the Red House Glass Cone plus 18 loft apartments.

Committee chairman Councillor Qadar Zada said: "For me this application ticks all the boxes. It's a welcome development that will bring together residential, a visitor attraction and a boost to the economy. I look forward to seeing this once it's fully developed."

Cllr Nic Barlow added: "It lends itself very nicely to that area. Anything that enhances the canalside area around Stourbridge is welcome."

The developers have been working together with the British Glass Foundation to bring to fruition the ambitious scheme which has been awarded £1.3m from the Growing Places Fund and £2.15m from the European Regional Development Fund.

Graham Fisher, BGF spokesman, said after the plan was approved: "It's absolutely astounding that we've reached this stage this fast. I'm delighted. We're not there yet but it's a major step forward.

"The people of Stourbridge must be so proud to be getting something that's going to put us on the world map."

Councillor Hilary Bills, Dudley's cabinet member for environment and culture, said: “We are delighted the proposals for the former Stuart Crystal site were approved by planners last night, as part of our long-term ambition to celebrate the borough’s globally renowned glass heritage.

"We look forward to the plans on the site taking shape to create a major tourist attraction, however, no decisions have been taken on the future of Broadfield House Glass Museum which remains open as normal.”

Work on the Stuart Crystal site is expected to get underway in the New Year and the museum could be up and running by early 2016.