OLD COURT TO BE CONCERT HALL
Scheme for entertainment, tea rooms and restaurant passed:
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