A developer has been found for the vacant Halifax Magistrates’ Courts but what does the future hold for the building?
Thanks to the consultancy services of IVE, a social enterprise working to ensure a more creative future for businesses, teachers, children and young people, a developer has been selected and legal contracts for sale are progressing on the Grade II listed building.
Rosi Lister, chief executive at IVE, said: “This project was really exciting for the team here at IVE. Due to the nature of the building, we were faced with some tough challenges in order to find a suitable developer, which gave us the ideal opportunity to showcase the creative skills which we are so passionate about in our day to day work.”
Thomas Lister was employed to assist in finding suitable buyers for a portfolio of public buildings.
However, part of the remit necessitated that any developer who bought the property had to demonstrate that they intended to bring it into a sustainable and beneficial use for the local community.
Some of the challenges faced by the teams at IVE and Thomas Lister included the building being a Grade II listed inside and out, necessary updates required for the electrics and heating, and the very nature of the building – as a court, developers would also need to identify opportunities for spaces such as an entire maze-like floor of cells.
Rosi continued: “Solving the problem of the magistrates’ court began with research. We utilised our experience in the heritage sector, network and strong relationships in the region to establish what the local priorities were for development to give us a sense of what the Council might value from the redevelopment.
“In this specific instance, we identified that there was a lack of good quality hotels in Halifax or a good restaurant or leisure offer. We were also aware of a larger development plan for Halifax council to create reasons to visit and use the town centre such as the recent successful redevelopment of The Piece Hall.”
A series of ‘creative reimagining events’ were arranged with key stakeholders to take them through a creative process that encouraged them to think more innovatively about the potential uses for the Magistrates’ Court.
This approach by IVE looked to challenge, and ultimately change, people’s current opinions of the building. At the start of the project, developers could only see problems with the building, but the creative prompts delivered by the organisation helped to open their minds to the wide variety of opportunities for the Halifax Magistrates’ Court, which then led to a number of offers and ideas for the building.
In addition, the presence of potential occupants at the event gave developers a chance to speak about their plans for the building, helping to build confidence for those responsible for redevelopment.