Crown court’s future ready to be announced
SPECULATION is rife about the future use of the former Crown Court buildings in Warwick - the county town’s original Shire Hall which dates back to the 1750s.
Warwickshire County Council owns the Grade I listed property in Northgate Street which still has its grand Assembly Rooms in the front where fashionable society used to gather as local justice was being administered at the Assizes and Quarter Sessions held in the adjoining courtrooms.
In December, The Courier reported that the Merlin Entertainments Group - which owns Warwick Castle - was one of the frontrunners for taking over the lease on the court complex, which has stood empty since the end of 2010 when legal proceedings were transferred to the new Justice Centre in Leamington.
This week it was expected that Merlin - which put forward proposals for conferences and other events in the historic buildings - would be named as the successful bidder.
The second frontrunner for the site has never been disclosed.
But it now seems there may still be a delay in reaching agreement on any plans for the future use of the highly significant site in the middle of the town. Even if the county council agreed to a lease, the tenant would still have to find favour with the “regulatory body” - which would be Warwick District Council.
Councillors serving on the district committees are still in the dark about future ownership. And they could be sensitive to the feelings of the eventual occupants of the 18 townhouses which are about to be restored on the other side of Northgate Street.
Although Cllr Gerry Guest (Con, Warwick South) said: “We have to be realistic. The court buildings will become an expensive white elephant if we don’t come up with some ideas.”
Fellow district councillor Linda Bromley (Con, Warwick South) said: “We’d all like to see this wonderful building preserved and put into good use - it’s like a period film set with the courtrooms and an amazing dungeon. On the last Heritage Open Day there were queues of people wanting to visit the place.”
Yesterday afternoon (Thurs) county councillors were expected to get an update on the situation.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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