Court sale ‘must benefit Chichester regeneration plans’

A protest to save the courts was held in March this year. Lawyers are still fighting to keep the crown and county court, set to close next Spring
A protest to save the courts was held in March this year. Lawyers are still fighting to keep the crown and county court, set to close next Spring

Whatever the Chichester law courts are turned into it must be for the best interest of the city and its residents, the district council insists.

The Magistrates’ court closed in September and the crown and county (combined) is due to follow early next year and both historic buildings are currently listed for sale on the Government’s website.

The Ministry of Justice will not say how much the sites are up for or what type of development they will turned into, but given their prime location in Southgate, close to the bus and railway stations, they are likely to fetch millions.

“Like other people that live and work within the district, we are very disappointed at the loss of the law courts in Chichester,” a CDC spokesperson said.

“Now that a decision has been made to remove this function from the city, it is important that we work with the (Government) Homes and Communities Agency to repurpose the site in the best interest of the city and its residents.

Chichester District Council published its Southern Gateway plan earlier this year, a comprehensive masterplan for linking and developing nine key sites to the south of the city, including both law courts buildings, the bus, railway and police station, Job Centre and former Chichester High School for Boys buildings.

“Work has already started on creating a masterplan for the Southern Gateway area of Chichester, which will bring a number of sites together as a co-ordinated framework to deliver regeneration and economic growth,” the spokesperson said.

“The law courts will form part of this plan and consideration will be given to how the sites can be used to benefit the city for years to come.

“The masterplan will help to shape one of the key arrival points to the city and provide a co-ordinated approach to the delivery of new homes, including starter homes, offices and commercial premises on a number of sites close to the city centre.

“This project will be one of the biggest regeneration projects that the city has seen and we will be involving residents and businesses throughout the process.”

A group of Chichester lawyers are continuing to fight the planned closure of the crown and county court and are considering a judicial review.

In total the Government is closing 86 court facilities up and down the country and the loss in Chichester will leave West Sussex without a crown court in the county.