Council leaders in Newcastle upon Tyne expect to relocate civil and family court and tribunals to the city’s civic centre in summer 2019, the Gazette has learned. Newcastle City Council has confirmed that negotiations are at an ‘advanced stage’ for a long-term lease with HM Courts and Tribunals Service over the move.
Bosses envisage the Haymarket location can bring in £32m of income over the next 25 years and want the courts service to be part of the development.
Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council said: 'This partnership with our new, long-term tenant not only secures a sustainable future for one of the iconic Grade II Listed buildings in the city, but importantly it helps us generate income that will fund vital front line services for our residents.'
Nick Heyward, project director at FaulknerBrowns Architects, added: 'Council services have been carefully redistributed to promote greater operational efficiency and consolidation, which has allowed space for HM Courts and Tribunal Service to occupy areas of the civic centre, thereby optimising building use and generating commercial income for Newcastle City Council.’
Talks are also being held to bring magistrates court and Crown court work under the same roof in the combined court on the quayside.
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and the Insolvency Service have both moved into the eighth floor of civic centre as new tenants since a refurbishment programme began. Other tenants include Northumbria Police Occupational Health and the German Consulate and the Coroner’s Court.
Meanwhile, campaigners fighting to keep court provision in the city of Chichester say they have new hope of a successful outcome.
Edward Cooke, spokesperson for West Sussex Resolution, which is leading the campaign, told the Gazette the government says it is 'investigating the availability of other property' in the city.
Chichester Combined Court was one of 86 sites across England and Wales earmarked for closure last year, but no alternative provision has been found and cases are still listed for months in the future.
Local lawyers have proposed a justice centre on a new site in the city and have welcomed potential support from the government.
An HMCTS spokesperson said: 'Chichester Combined Court is still hearing cases and will only close once alternative provision arrangements have been established.
'Closing underused and dilapidated court buildings will allow us to reinvest in the justice system. This will improve the experience for all court users, in particular vulnerable victims and witnesses.'