OLD COURT TO BE CON­CERT HALL

Scheme for en­ter­tain­ment, tea rooms and restau­rant passed:

Caernarfon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Gareth Wyn Wil­liams

PLANS to trans­form an his­toric court­house into a con­cert hall and tea­room have been given the green light by Gwynedd Coun­cil.

Set in the heart of Caernar­fon, the Grade I-listed build­ing housed the town’s Crown and Mag­is­trates Courts un­til its clo­sure in 2009.

But pro­pos­als, which look set to cre­ate four full-time and six part-time jobs, will now go ahead af­ter plan­ners of­fered no ob­jec­tion to con­vert­ing the base­ment and ground floor from res­i­den­tial to com­mer­cial use.

Fol­low­ing the court’s clo­sure, plan­ning per­mis­sion was given to con­vert the fa­cil­ity into an eight-bed­room house, but it was placed back on the mar­ket in 2016 with an ask­ing price of £525,000.

The new plans in­clude tea rooms, a restau­rant and space for en­ter­tain­ment, which have en­joyed the back­ing of Caernar­fon Town Coun­cil.

The her­itage im­pact state­ment notes: “The aim of this pro­posal is to re­tain res­i­den­tial use to the first and se­cond floors, and con­vert the ground and lower ground floors into tea­rooms, restau­rant and live en­ter­tain­ment/mu­sic venue.

“The main scope of the works will be to re­move all mod­ern stud par­ti­tion walls to ex­pose the orig­i­nal in­ter­nal char­ac­ter and ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures of the orig­i­nal build­ing.

“It is also en­vis­aged that the base­ment and ground floor ar­eas which housed the for­mer court­house and cells will be open for pub­lic view­ing and will form part of the Caernar­fon Her­itage Walks.”

The pro­posed open­ing hours will be be­tween 8am and 11pm from Mon­day to Satur­day and 9am to 9pm on Sun­days and Bank Hol­i­days.

The de­ci­sion, which was not called in to the au­thor­ity’s plan­ning com­mit­tee, was ap­proved by of­fi­cers who were sat­is­fied that the plans fell within plan­ning reg­u­la­tions. They also felt that re­mov­ing the mod­ern par­ti­tions would im­prove the look of the build­ing, but in­serted a clause that the ex­ist­ing lay­out should be ex­ten­sively pho­tographed for pos­ter­ity.

The court’s clo­sure in 2009 co­in­cided with the open­ing of the new crim­i­nal jus­tice cen­tre on Llan­beris Road, but, un­til then, the build­ing was the seat of jus­tice in Caernar­fon for the best part of 700 years. Just across the road from the Old Court House is Caernar­fon Cas­tle, built by King Ed­ward I, known world­wide as a World Her­itage Site and where Prince Charles had his in­vesti­ture in 1969.

Fea­tur­ing a gothic ar­chi­tec­ture style of dec­o­ra­tion, the old court­house stands within the cas­tle walls and still re­tains the im­pres­sive orig­i­nal dome, glass lantern and or­nate and colour­ful ceil­ing de­signs.

Speak­ing ear­lier this year, ap­pli­cant Moira Hart­ley said: “Other places I had been to did not have the con­cert space I needed for this but this was per­fect. This is such an amaz­ing build­ing. We want to put on a range of con­certs, we want the com­mu­nity to use this build­ing and open it up to every­one.

“My aim is to strip back as much as we can to re­store the build­ing to how it was and re­veal as much as pos­si­ble.”

● Moira Hart­ley out­side the Crown Court in Caernar­fon

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