Decision made over future of Blackpool Magistrates Court following investigation in RAAC concrete

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The court closed suddenly in November

Blackpool Magistrates Court is to shut permanently after bosses ruled it is too costly to repair the complex after the discovery of crumbling concrete.

The courthouse on Chapel Street, built in the 1960s, was closed in November for investigations into the presence of RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) in the building.

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Artist's impression of Blackpool's planned new magistrates courtArtist's impression of Blackpool's planned new magistrates court
Artist's impression of Blackpool's planned new magistrates court | n/a

Now the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has decided to close the courthouse permanently - leaving the Fylde coast without a criminal court until a new magistrates court is built at Devonshire Road as part of investment of around £40m.

The new facilities are not expected to open until 2026, meaning cases will be heard at other courts in the meantime including Preston and Lancaster magistrates courts.

The existing courthouse was due to close at the end of 2024 anyway to make way for the next phase of the £300m Blackpool Central leisure development. It is due to demolished along with the former Bonny Street police station.

A spokesperson for the MoJ said: "Having considered value for money to the taxpayer, we have decided to close the existing Blackpool Magistrates’ and County Court buildings permanently, also helping to expedite the delivery of the new £300m Blackpool Central scheme.

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"We’ll provide the community with a modern, state-of-the-art court building fit for the future from early 2026.

“In the meantime, all hearings will be moved to other court buildings in Lancashire to minimise disruption – supported by the recent re-opening of Preston Magistrates’ Court and the expansion of Lancaster Magistrates’.”

Funding for the new courthouse includes £40m from the Levelling Up Fund and £8m from the Town Deal.

A report to a meeting of the Town Deal Board in July 2021 said at that time £14m worth of repairs and maintenance would be needed to the courthouse over a 25 year period.

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A full planning application was submitted  last October for a new courthouse on the corner of Devonshire Road and Talbot Road.

A three-storey building is proposed including 10 courts, judicial chambers, administrative space, custody facilities, public waiting facilities and landscaping. Preston Magistrates’ Court, which is now fully reopened after being temporarily closed due to RAAC, has five courtrooms and two tribunal hearing rooms. 

Work is taking place at Lancaster Magistrates’ Court to enable the custody suite to reopen and provide two courtrooms to hear custodial cases by end of February.

Fleetwood Magistrates Court will re-open for civil and family cases only as it does not have custodial facilities.

The MoJ says the "overwhelming majority of users will be able to travel to these alternative locations within a reasonable timeframe."

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