A landmark building branded “one of the ugliest” in Lisburn could be set to get a much-needed facelift.
The city’s courthouse has been earmarked for possible improvement works under the council’s ongoing Public Realm Scheme.
The prominent property at the junction of Railway Street and Bachelors Walk is badly in need of some TLC to improve its rundown exterior.
And if agreement can be reached between Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and the Department of Justice, work to enhance the appearance of the building could go ahead in the near future.
At Monday night’s council meeting, members were presented with a copy of a letter from the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS), responding positively to the council’s offer to work with the department to carry out work to improve the look of the court building.
The letter said that NICTS is obtaining costs to have the external walls of the property cleaned/painted, but stressed that a decision on the work would depend on cost and available funds.
In light of current financial constraints, the NICTS said it welcomed the council’s offer to work with it to improve the building.
“Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council has extended an offer to work with the Department of Justice to work with it, through the Public Realm Scheme, to carry out some work to enhance the present appearance of Lisburn Courthouse,” a council spokesperson confirmed.
“Following the monthly meeting, a meeting between the council and the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service will be arranged to further explore this proposal.”
Welcoming the possibility of a partnership approach to improve the aesthetics of the courthouse, UUP Councillor Alexander Redpath commented: “Whilst I have long been a champion of protecting services at the courthouse I would be the first to admit that it’s one of the ugliest buildings in the city.
“The Courts Service have offered to meet with our staff to discuss how we can work together through the council’s Public Realm Scheme to improve the look of the courthouse. If this provides an opportunity for us to work jointly with the Courts Service to improve the look of the building I’d be keen to pursue it. However, this can’t be used an excuse by the Courts Service to pass on their maintenance costs to the ratepayer.”
Lisburn Courthouse had been under threat of closure due to cutbacks. It was given a reprieve last year, but renewed concerns about the future of the building surfaced this summer when the NI Courts and Tribunals Service proposed moving Youth Court cases to Belfast.
The council has stressed its commitment to retaining court services in the city - a position backed by Lisburn Solicitors’ Association.
Councillor Redpath, who works as a solicitor, added: “I think this offer by the council underlines our commitment to keeping the courthouse open. I hope that investment in the building will also convince the Courts Service to show the same commitment to keeping services at Lisburn Courthouse.”