Lewes Magistrates’ Court up for sale

Lewes magistrates court.
Lewes magistrates court.

THE former Lewes Magistrates’ Court, and its car park, is up for sale.

The bidding deadline is 12noon on March 16.

Offers in excess of £1m are being invited for the property.

The minimum figure quoted is understood to be about the original cost of the purpose-built building, completed in 1986 and opened by the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

The court closed last year as a result of cost-saving measures, despite a fierce campaign to keep the dispensation of local justice retained in Lewes. Since then it has stood empty.

Now the Ministry of Justice Estate Directorate has decided to make the most of its asset.

The court building, in Friars Walk, is being marketed by London-based Jones Lang LaSalle as a freehold development site.

The firm points out in its particulars that it is essentially a civic facility “and where parties are looking to retain the building we anticipate that some re-configuration will be required”. The bomb-proof structure features court rooms, office accommodation, meetings rooms, a reception and waiting area, staff and visitor facilities ... and cells.

It is located in the town centre, which has been identified in the Lewes District Local Plan as a site “suitable for increasing the viability and vitality of the area”.

Future development of the car park might be restricted, though, and both sites lie within the Lewes Conservation Area.

Agents Jones Lang LaSalle indicate future uses of the former court –subject to necessary consents – might include financial services, leisure, cultural and community facilities, entertainment, health services, education and offices.

Retail uses could also be acceptable. Offers are being invited to purchase either one or both sites

Meanwhile, a flood risk assessment carried out for the Ministry of Justice Estate Directorate by Burgess Hill-based GTA Civils Ltd suggests that the immediate future of the state-of-the-art courthouse might be demolition to be replaced by a block of private residential flats.