Northern Ireland

£12m Crumlin Road courthouse refurbishment suggested

Crumlin Road courthouse
Image caption The courthouse has been derelict for 15 years and is in a state of serious disrepair

Consultants have suggested the part refurbishment of one of Northern Ireland's best-known listed buildings at a cost of about £12m.

Crumlin Road Courthouse in north Belfast has been derelict for 15 years and is in a state of serious disrepair.

It is owned by a private developer, but the executive has asked consultants to find a way forward.

They think the best option is to repair the property and open courtroom number one as a tourist attraction.

The courthouse is a 160-year-old listed building, but a series of fires in recent years have left it without a roof.

Eight suggestions have been put forward for consultation, from doing nothing to options involving a hotel and restaurant.

The consultants favour an option that would reconstruct a courtroom, refurbish the ground and first floors, but mothball the basement and rear wing.

"It is really important something is done," said Justine Daly of consultants Turley Associates.

"It is physically linked to the jail by an underground tunnel and we could make that work by coming up into court one."

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland said consideration would have to be given to bringing the building back into public ownership.

The taxpayer would then face picking up the bill.

"I would suspect as it has been sitting in private ownership for quite a number of years and has been allowed to fall into disrepair that is not going to be the way forward," Mr McCausland said.

"It has to have some form of intervention. It is part of the cultural wealth of the city."

Decisions will be made in the months ahead.

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