A CAMPAIGN is underway to find a use for Bridgwater’s landmark former magistrates’ court building, which has been closed for nearly three years.
The building is listed, which limits how it can be used in future, say campaigning councillors and civic society members who want to see it brought back into use for the community.
It is hoped a public open day can now be held to try to drum up interest in the site with experts on hand to explain the benefits as well as the limitations of using the building.
A joint Bridgwater Town Council and civic society panel met last week to place certain key buildings in Bridgwater on the Community Assets Register.
By registering the building, campaigners are able to prevent the sale of buildings for up to six months, giving members of the community the chance to submit their own bids.
Alternatively, it gives time to ask developers to clarify their plans for the buildings.
It was agreed to apply to put the magistrates’ court on the register.
Carnival organisations and the museum have already looked at the former magistrates’ court as a potential home, but have been put off by restrictions imposed by the listed site.
Cllr Pat Morley, one of the Westover councillors who sits on the panel, said: “We could look at film locations and the media in general – I’m sure we could find a use for the site.”
The final court sitting was held at the former Bridgwater court at the end of 2011 after nearly a century of use.
The closure was part of a Government drive to increase efficiency and save £41million.
The joint town council and civic society panel also agreed to apply to put the vacant Hope Inn on the Community Assets Register.
Cllr Brian Smedley said: “The Hope Inn is currently under offer and so would be a test case as the process of registration would make clear what was being proposed on the site, which is currently unused and surrounded by fencing.
“There are important ancillary buildings of an historic nature and a famous skittles alley.”
o WHICH buildings would you like to see protected by being on the register? Email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org