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Council sells land for new courthouse

Image – Artist’s impression of the new courthouse

Town hall chiefs are to sell a key site in Blackpool for a nominal fee of just £1 in order to kickstart a major regeneration project.

The deal will see the council sell land formerly occupied by the Devonshire Road Hospital to the government to enable work to begin on building a new Magistrates Court.

Blackpool Council paid around £1m for the 3.7-acre site in 2020, using funding from an early tranche of Town Deal cash. As the money came from central government, it has now been agreed to sell the land to HM Courts and Tribunals Service for the nominal fee.

With planning permission for a new three-storey building already in place, it paves the way for building work to begin early in 2025 with completion by late 2026.

A council report says: “The nominal transfer of the site is in consideration of the grant funding received from central government, which supported
the acquisition of a site, which has lain redundant for nearly 20 years.”

The deal also means the council can move on with the demolition of the former courts buildings and police station on Bonny Street to clear that part of the site for the Blackpool Central leisure development.

However, it will retain some of the land on the former Devonshire Road Hospital site not needed for the courthouse, with the council “exploring options for future development of this area in due course. ”

The council bought the site from the Preston-based Maple Grove Developments, part of the Eric Wright Group, in June 2020.

The new courthouse will include 10 courts, judicial chambers, administrative space, custody facilities, public waiting facilities, landscaping, partial removal of an existing wall to create new pedestrian access and new vehicular access onto Talbot Road.

Calls have been made for work to be done as quickly as possible following the closure of the existing magistrates courts in November last year after the discovery of RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) in the building.

Cases are currently being heard at other courts across Lancashire.

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