Could the Magistrate's Courts on Dale Street come alive again

These are attractive plans for Dale Street. The former Magistrates’ Courts completed in 1859 and designed by John Weightman, the Borough Surveyor, are to potentially become more welcoming than they've ever been. 

​The plans, if approved, would deliver 91 bedrooms in the old block and 20 rooms in a new build area

The Grade II listed building closed in 2015. Since then, several proposals for onward use have come and gone. Now there are new ideas which include restaurants, bars and a boutique hotel occupying the courts, cells and offices of the building.

The developer is a Belgian company, VHSF, who previously proposed for the Magistrates' Courts 68 student apartments, 5 serviced apartments plus commercial units including hospitality. The new ideas are much stronger, student accommodation seemed a poor solution for this fine building although the cells might have come in handy for drunken students after a night of revellery. 

Magistrates Court Dale Street Liverpool 2018
The abandoned building on Dale Street Image: Wikimedia

The plans, if approved, would deliver 91 bedrooms in the old block and 20 rooms in a new build area. There would be a garden lounge, gym and sauna.

Original features would be reused where posssible although there’s doubt over how Court Two can be incorporated into the scheme. This is included in the listing and can’t be bashed about. VHSF say: ‘"Interesting uses will need to be found in order for the room to be of a useful nature to the hotel.”

There’s a precedent not far from Liverpool, to the east, of how an old courts can become an active part of a hotel. The Courthouse Knutsford uses their early nineteenth century courtroom as a restaurant, with tables and chairs set among the courtroom fittings. 

Magistrates Court Dale Street
The abandoned courtroom will need much care and attention Image:
18 10 4Th Barcourt House Hdr Dd 47
A courtroom that's now a restaurant at Knutsford Image: The Courthouse Knutsford

Elsewhere across the building cells would become bedrooms and there would be luxury suites in the former magistrates’ offices. No doubt the graffitti from the accused will be moved. 

A public bar and restaurant would be accessed from Dale Street. This lies almost opposite the Municipal Hotel, formerly Municipal Buildings, which were also designed by the energetic John Weightman.  

2023 10 05 Magistrates Courts Dale Street Proposed Elevations
The proposed elevations on three streets Image: Confidentials

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