Historic city centre magistrates court to become hotel

A grade II listed former magistrates court at the heart of Liverpool city centre is to be transformed into a four-star hotel at the second time of asking.

Back in 2019, plans were signed off for a 90-room hotel at the long-vacant magistrates court and fire station building cornering Dale Street and Hatton Garden. However, those designs expired leaving the site in limbo even longer.

Now, prospective guests could have their chance to stay in a former cell as a fresh application has been given the go-ahead.

Plans submitted by VSHF Developments Ltd will convert the site into a hotel, including a bar/restaurant, leisure and function rooms, with associated internal alterations and demolition to facilitate these works. In addition, a new build element would be built containing further short-term accommodation and ancillary leisure uses.

The building – which once contained seven courtrooms, alongside basement and ground floor cells – has been designated as a grade II listed building since 1975 and adjoins the grade II listed former Central Fire Station within the settings of several other listed buildings, including the Main Bridewell and Municipal Buildings, reflecting the medieval origins of Liverpool.

Since closing in 2015, the complex has been subject to a number of development proposals, including the aforementioned hotel plans and student flats in 2021.

According to planning documents, the courthouse has a very complex floor plan, due to the requirement to keep the judges and magistrates separate from the public. The fire station has a relatively simple floor plan with an access corridor to the rear and a series of offices fronting onto Hatton Garden.

Both are spread over five floors including basement areas and a very small attic room. The buildings are arranged around an original courtyard which has been populated with outriggers.

Connor Wigley, agent on behalf of the developer, said the site would be transformed into a four star hotel, and represented an “efficient use of vacant land”. A collection of room types will be on offer, including luxury suites in the old magistrates’ and judges’ offices to bespoke themed short-stay rooms in the cells.

The proposals were warmly received by members of the committee on Tuesday morning. Cllr Pat Moloney said, “I welcome this development bringing back into use a historic and architecturally beautiful building.

Cllr Joe Hanson added, “I walked up Dale Street most days and feel sadness at the building being left there like that. It’s something Liverpool needs.”

Former deputy Mayor, Cllr Jane Corbett, said, “This will make a big difference to Dale Street, increase footfall and help other businesses and bring an old building back to life.”

Cllr Tricia O’Brien went further on the theme of development, adding, “We’ve assented plans at this building before and it didn’t get built.

“This will regenerate Dale Street.”

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