EXCLUSIVE: Flats and business centre could replace magistrates’ court

News Desk (22 June, 2017) Housing Regeneration

Camberwell court set to close at the end of 2018

166Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court (Credit: Secret London)

A new business centre and nearly 100 new flats could replace the Camberwell Magistrates’ Court building after it closes in 2018, a new report has shown.

The proposals are included in the latest draft of Southwark Council’s New Southwark Plan – a document which includes dozens of sites across the borough deemed suitable for regeneration.

The government confirmed in February that Camberwell Magistrates’ Court would be due to close by the end of 2018.

The Ministry of Justice’s decision to close the court caused uproar in the community and among legal professionals, and was objected to by Southwark Council and local MPs.

The nearest magistrates’ court for locals to use will instead be in Croydon and Bromley, which are both said to be already running at capacity.

A local magistrate who spoke to the News anonymously said: “Camberwell’s court is also an extremely valuable building. It has two levels of underground car parking, and it’s in a prime location,” adding that government “will make a lot of money from the sale”.

In the latest edition of the council’s draft New Southwark Plan, regeneration officers have said a new development could provide 6,105m2 of space for small businesses, or a site for up to 96 flats.

The report said a taller building could be permitted “subject to consideration of impacts on existing character, heritage and detailed townscape analysis”.

Shops, bars and cafés could also be housed on the ground floor. It also said the public open spaces surrounding the current court building could be “re-landscaped”, and that mature trees there should be retained.

Earlier this year the former Lord Chief of Justice, MP Elizabeth Truss, said the effects of closing the court will be:

• That hearings for those defendants under the age of eighteen will be relocated to Bromley Magistrates’ Court • Hearings for defendants over the age of eighteen will be relocated to Croydon Magistrates’ Court • Housing possession work, which was going to be moved to Camberwell after a decision to close Lambeth County Court, will instead happen at Southwark’s three local crown courts.

Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes said she was “concerned” the closure “will significantly reduce access to justice for my constituents”. “Attendance in court will be much more challenging,” she said, particularly for “vulnerable young people”. Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court was also confirmed for closure in February.

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