06:00 Tuesday 10 June 2014

Fresh plans to refurbish Ely courthouse are submitted

Written byJORDAN DAY

Ely's former magistrates' court in Lynn Road. Ely's former magistrates' court in Lynn Road.

Fresh plans to bring Ely’s former magistrates’ court back into use have now been submitted.

It was last summer that the City of Ely Council applied to East Cambridgeshire District Council for planning permission to change the use of the Grade II listed building in Lynn Road.

However, the city council was made to go back to the drawing board due to numerous concerns – mainly the lack of disabled access.

New plans concerning the first phase of the renovation – namely the north wing of the 19th century building – has now been submitted to the district council.

The proposals involve turning the main section of the north wing, the former probation wing, into new offices for the city council – the intention being that they would re-locate there from the existing premises in Market Street.

The council also wants to create new interview facilities, a kitchen area and toilets inside the wing, as well as move the building’s main entrance to the rear.

Cllr Elaine Griffin-Singh, Ely’s former mayor and who has been actively involved with the plans, said: “Unfortunately there were issues which meant we had to go back to the drawing board. The main issue was access for the disabled and buggies.

“The new plans are only for the first phase, which is mainly for us to be able to move inside the north wing.

“Discussions and negotiations concerning the rest of the building are ongoing and our plan is to have the rest of it acting as a community hub, with a mixture of things like offices and museum and art gallery space.

“I think it makes sense for the main entrance to be located at the rear - that’s where the majority of the footfall will come from.”

The courthouse has stood empty since March 2011 when it was closed by the Ministry of Justice and last year the city council managed to purchase the building for just £1.

To view the latest plans, visit www.eastcambs.gov.uk.

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