Public asked for the future of Crumlin Road Courthouse
The jury is still out on a proposed £12 million redevelopment of the historic Crumlin Road Courthouse.
The final sentence of one of Belfast's oldest buildings is still unclear despite a public consultation on its future being held by Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland.
The 160-year-old building has fallen into dereliction following a number of fires at the site, once planned as a grand hotel complex by current owner and property owner Barry Gilligan.
While on the opposite side of the road the connected Crumlin Road Gaol has become a highly successful visitor attraction in recent years.
"The Crumlin Road Courthouse is a Grade B+ listed building. Before fire damage it was classified as one of the grandest examples of its type in Northern Ireland because of its exceptional features, interiors and environmental qualities and it is of considerable interest on both architectural and historic grounds," said the Minister.
"Although the Courthouse is in private ownership, its historic and architectural value means that the people of the area and indeed the wider public hold a real interest in its future."
Consultants Turley Associates, commissioned to examine the building's potential, have presented a range of options for the building including both medium and long-term redevelopment.
Among the plans put forward to the public included a medium-term £12 million refurbishment plan favoured by the consultants.
The preferred option would see re-roofing and basic refurbishment of the ground and first floors for a combination of uses – office space, performance space or cafe.
Courtroom 1 would be refurbished for lease to use as an extension on the current gaol tour and the basement and rear wing would be used for car parking.
That option is thought most viable as it allows for the possibility of longer term redevelopment including a hotel, office space and exhibition centre, if it was transferred into public ownership.
"There are a range of potential options being put forward which include everything from tidying up the site and doing some basic reconstruction work in the courtrooms, to a complete transformation further down the line to a venue that could drive tourism with a hotel, restaurants, educational or performance space. This venue could be a huge asset and I along with other Ministers am keen to see what can be achieved," added the Minister.
View the range of options at http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/consultations-crumlin-road-courthouse and comments can be submitted up until Friday, December 6.