The former Rotherham magistrates’ court building will be demolished after a plan to buy it for £1 was approved this morning.
The riverside building has been empty since the court’s responsibilities were transferred to Sheffield last year.
The council hopes to use the land as part of its ‘masterplan’ to regenerate the town centre.
Commissioner Julie Kenny gave the go-ahead for the plan at a cabinet meeting today, calling the building an “excellent acquisition”.
“I think the council needs to be commended for persuading the Ministry of Justice to allow us to take this property back,” she said.
The government had initially decided that the building would be sold on the open market, but changed its mind in February, giving the council until 31 March to buy the court building for £1.
Jonathan Marriott, the council’s estates manager, said the decision was timely as the council works on its plans to redevelop the town centre.
The council has already acquired Forge Island and much of the riverside land.
“A comprehensive redevelopment of this area will create a catalyst for further investment to introduce new jobs, businesses and housing into Rotherham town centre,” said Mr Marriott.
Brian Cutts, Ukip councillor for Hellaby, asked if the site could be used for a bus station.
But council leader Chris Read, of Labour, said the council’s intention was to redevelop and refurbish the current bus station and multi-storey car park.
There may still be legal issues ahead, as the council has not yet seen the title deeds and cannot yet confirm that it will have access to the property
Denise Lelliott, Labour councillor for Hoober, said those issues could not be addressed before purchase because of the 31 March deadline.
“Those matters are being dealt with on a daily basis as we progress through this,” said Ms Kenny as she approved the plans.
“I am sure that those matters can be resolved.”
The magistrates’ court, which opened in 1994, had its final session in Rotherham last September.
Govt should replace it with another magistrates’ court so Rotherham folk don’t have to travel to Sheffield for justice. 2manycourt closures! https://t.co/hdcKEUmS9J
— Mark Hanna (@MarkHannaMedia) March 13, 2017