Courthouse plans ‘still on hold’ despite new Ministry of Justice bid

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JUSTICE chiefs have put in a fresh bid to build a state-of-the- art courtroom on the edge of Aylesbury town centre – but a district council boss has warned it could still be some time until it is built.

An application for a new three- storey Crown Court building in Walton Street has been lodged, as planning permission granted in 2009 will expire this year.

The project had been put on hold because of a government spending review.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Justice said the bid ‘does not commit’ it to go ahead.

Documents lodged at Aylesbury Vale District Council say the town’s existing Crown Court, which faces on to Market Square, is ‘no longer fit for purpose’.

If given the go-ahead, the court building will stand on the former Equitable Life site close to the gyratory.

The land is currently owned by the Aylesbury Conservative Association.

Association agent Sarah Sproat told the Herald this week: “The plans look very nice, although it’s a shame that the court would have to move from where it is.

“It was put on hold because of the change of government, and the subsequent spending review.

“It would be a good thing for the town.”

And Councillor Michael Edmonds, who is responsible for economic development at AVDC, said: “I think in the early days we thought it was imminent, but then the monetary situation took over.

“We’ve always felt it would be done, but it has always been a case of when it falls into the pecking order.

“I would welcome this going ahead.”

But Mr Edmonds, Conservative, warned that the latest application is not necessarily a sign that work is imminent.

He said: “We need to see whether they’re just looking to renew the old permission, or if there are any modifications.

“We shouldn’t read too much into the fact that there’s a new application just yet.”

This week a statement from the Ministry of Justice said: “A new four-courtroom, Aylesbury Crown Court building project was put on hold following the comprehensive spending review announced in October 2010.

“We have a responsibility to ensure our building projects provide good value for money and are sustainable in the long term.

“We are currently considering a number of options, including conversion of existing courtroom provision and new builds.

“At this stage no decision has been made. The application to extend the planning permission for three years will allow us to keep our options open. It does not commit us in any way to proceeding with the scheme.”