Chorley Magistrates' Court up for public sale – despite council's attempts to take it on

A courthouse that was closed in a cost-cutting measure by the government is now on the open market despite an enquiry from the local council to take the building on.

Monday, 23rd September 2019, 8:49 am
Updated Monday, 23rd September 2019, 9:49 am
For Sale signs on Chorley Magistrates' Court

The Ministry of Justice is selling Chorley Magistrates’ Court after closing the courthouse at the end of March.

The courthouse, which was purpose-built in 1966 for court use, is located off St Thomas’s Road in the town centre, sandwiched between Chorley Town Hall and Chorley Police Station.

Real estate advisors Avison Young, which is handling the sale, have not slapped a public asking price on the building.

For Sale signs on Chorley Magistrates' Court

Instead offers are being “invited”, leading to some confusion as to what the true value of the property is.

One source said that prices are not going to be confirmed at this moment, but it is understood that money will be reinvested into the justice system once a sale has been formalised.

Coun Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, confirmed that the council had enquired to take ownership of the building but that this was knocked back.

He said: “We’ve enquired about taking the building on but the owners, the Ministry of Justice, has said they want to take it to market.

For Sale signs on Chorley Magistrates' Court

“We strongly believe this building should be used as a court to administer justice locally but if not then its important it is used to improve the town centre offer and not left as a derelict building."

The building is being advertised as a potential site for a future office, residential, restaurant and bar, leisure, entertainment, and hotel.

The court was closed as part of cost-cutting measures by the Ministry of Justice which have seen 86 courts closed by the government that it deems to be “under-used” or “simply unsuitable for the services we need to provide”.

During 2016/17, the court sat for a total of 1,512 hours out of a possible 3,810 available hours.

Preston, which now takes in Chorley hearings, sat for 5,176 hours out of a possible 6,350 available hours.

Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court, which had been used as a Family Hearing Centre, has also closed as part of these measures.