Green councillors have been working to save the Old Coroner’s Court on Nursery St, an attractive building opposite the Nursery St Pocket Park – and with some success so far.
The issue has opened up the debate about the protection of what is left of the heritage in the city centre.
According to Valerie Bayliss of the Victorian Society, it was built in 1913 to the designs of the first city architect, F E P Philips. It was state-of-the-art at that time, integrating coroner’s court, mortuary, post-mortem rooms, viewing chapel, witnesses’ waiting rooms and police accommodation together with a yard and stabling. Bomb damage in the Second World War led to internal remodelling in the 1950s before it was used as the Youth Court but it remains an important structure, close to two listed buildings and contributing significantly to the environment of the area.
Above all, it is an attractive and balanced building that lends a sense of calm to the area – no doubt something that was intended when family of the deceased had to attend the official courtroom of the coroner. However, it is not a listed building.
The court recently came under threat as a property developer gave notice of his intention to demolish it in August and clear the land to build flats on.
Councillor Douglas Johnson explained, “I became aware of the plan to demolish the building and raised the concerns with council officers in the planning department and with heritage campaigners. I found out that the formal powers available to the council to protect our heritage are very limited.
“I then talked directly to the developer about our concerns and we discussed the opportunities for a sensitive development of the area. He agreed to withdraw his application to demolish the building and to have a fresh look at what could be done with the site.”
The work with heritage campaigners has led to Green councillors asking the council to give further protection to the heritage of the Castlegate area, so that the forthcoming development there will preserve the remainder of the historic heart of the city.
No doubt, further plans for redevelopment will appear soon. Let us know if you would like to be kept informed.