£7.4m plan to transform disused magistrates court into commercial hub

By Tim Aldred

30 Aug 2023

Preston Courts

Preston City Council has submitted plans to transform the Grade II-listed former magistrates court, which has been empty for more than two decades, into a multi-use hub.

Amounderness House, built in 1857, will undergo a £7.4m refurbishment into a modern workspace hub designed to help stimulate business, cultural and community uses in the city centre.

The project is one of six planned under Preston's Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme, for which the city was awarded £20.9m from the government's national Towns Fund initiative in March 2021.

Plans for Amounderness House's refurbishment designed by FWP include the sensitive repair and redevelopment of the existing former police station, cells and magistrates court building, retaining the historic building fabric wherever possible while creating a space suitable for modern use.

When completed, the refurbishment will see 26 offices circa 645 sq ft and four craft or retail studios made available. In addition, the existing courtyard will be updated and open for public use.

Maple Grove Developments is working with Preston City Council and W_rkspace as project/development manager via the Lancashire Regeneration Property Partnership to deliver the project.

John Chesworth, chair of Preston's Towns Fund Strategic Board, said: "It's fantastic that plans have been submitted to transform Amounderness House into a vibrant commercial space. The scheme will provide much-needed office accommodation in the City and contribute to the growth of Preston's economy.

"It's a remarkable building with significant historical and architectural importance, and we're delighted to see that those assets are celebrated in the proposed plans."

Neil Ainsworth, partner at Preston headquartered FWP, said: "Our plans centre on returning this long-disused building back into use as a modern office hub that meets the needs of businesses, while preserving its great character.

“To that end, the building’s original elements will be retained and sensitively redeveloped, with restoration work a key part of the project. We’ve worked hard to make sure that the interior of Amounderness House will be largely retained and reconfiguration work is kept to the minimum. The same goes for its historic external appearance.

“In all the design work we have looked to strike a delicate balance, in order to revitalise a building that has stood empty for over 20 years and has been noted as ‘at risk’ while being sensitive to any heritage impact.”

Nik Puttnam, senior development manager with Maple Grove Developments, added: "The submission of the planning application and listed building consent is another key milestone which has been achieved on the project. Maple Grove is proud to be working with Preston City Council on this important part of the wider regeneration and investment programme for Preston City Centre."

The project team for Amounderness House also includes Cowburn-Watson Box, SCP Transport, Eden Heritage, E3P, TRP Consulting, and Graham Schofield Associates.

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