A scheme to convert an old city centre courthouse into smart new flats is to be judged by planning chiefs.
Developers want to turn Preston’s former county court building in Starkie Street into 20 self-contained apartments.
And, if granted, the project will see a “crude” 1970s style building renovated into a housing block more in keeping with the Winckley Square Conservation Area.
Four-storey Robert House, home to the civil and bankruptcy courts until the mid-nineties, now stands empty after its last tenant, a children’s nursery on the ground floor, moved out earlier this year.
A planning application by Tustin Developments is now before the city council where it is expected to get approval.
A report has revealed that attempts to rent the block out as office accommodation have proved fruitless, leading the company to conclude there is no longer a need for additional business premises in one of the city’s main corporate areas.
The building, constructed in the 1970s, housed the courtrooms on the ground floor until they were moved to the newly-built law courts on the Ringway. The three floors above were office accommodation and more recently were occupied by a financial services company.
But after they vacated the building, followed by Bizzkids children’s nursery, the block has become a “poorly designed” white elephant standing in among some grand buildings of character.
In the report to planning committee members, the developers say the building in its current state “detracts from the conservation area.”
They add: “Winckley Square consists of large well-proportioned buildings which were built as houses, converted to offices, now reverting to their original function.”
The flats project, say Tustin Developments, will give the block the appearance of a smart terrace of houses which will “sit comfortably in the street scene.”