New multi-million pound courthouse arrives in Marylebone
State-of-the-art centre ensures borough has ‘first class justice system’
A brand new state-of-the-art magistrates’ court opened its doors in Marylebone on Tuesday after a multi-million pound refurbishment.
Built on the site of the old Marylebone Magistrates’ Court, the new 10-courtroom Westminster Magistrates’ Court will take over responsibility for all cases in the borough.
The move marks the culmination of five years of major upheaval for Westminster’s criminal justice system.
At the turn of the century there were three magistrates courts in the borough at Marylebone Road, Horseferry Road and Bow Street.
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But in a bid to centralise the work onto one site the courts service decided to construct a brand new ‘super’ court on the Marylebone Road site.
Dave Weston of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service said: “This new centre demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that court users in London have access to a first class criminal justice system.
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“Our aim in opening Westminster Magistrates’ Court is to provide a single, purpose-built courthouse that is properly equipped to deal with the high-volume, high profile Westminster workload.”
The construction of the new Marylebone court was a source of much controversy when the plans were announced in 2006.
The old Marylebone Magistrates’ Court had comprised a building dating from 1848, the former Marylebone Public Baths dating from 1896, and Pompeian Bath fa�ade from 1874.
During the planning stage, groups including the Victorian Society, Marylebone Association and St Marylebone Society all opposed the plans to demolish the old court claiming it would be a destruction of heritage.
However, it was eventually determined on appeal that the baths could be demolished while some of the site was sold off for affordable housing.
The opening of the new court also marks the end for the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Horseferry Road which closed its doors last week.
The Horseferry Road site dealt with some of the most high-profile cases in recent times including those of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and late singer Amy Winehouse. Magistrates also sat through the night at the court during the riots last month.
The Horseferry Road site – along with the Bow Street site – has now been sold to developers.
The new Westminster Magistrates Court will deal with all cases originating in the borough as well as hearing national cases related to terrorism, extradition and other high-profile matters.
A formal opening ceremony will take place next year.