Major repairs and improvements planned for historic Sunderland Magistrates' Court - including crash barriers and 'bird protection systems'

Historic law courts in the heart of Sunderland are set for major repairs under proposals submitted to council planning chiefs.

Earlier in June 2022, Sunderland City Council’s planning department received a planning application for the Magistrates’ Court off Galley’s Gill Road.

The application from the Ministry of Justice proposed “repairs and improvement works” which aim to futureproof the Grade II-listed building and “ensure its continued preservation”.

According to a heritage statement prepared for the applicant, the proposed scheme would see the replacement and renewal of some parts of the building, as well as waterproofing works and structural improvements to areas including the basement and roof.

Sunderland Magistrates Court.

Alongside this, “repair and decoration works” are planned for the pitched roofs, stonework, steel beams, windows, external doors, plasterwork, chimneys, rainwater goods and soil pipes.

Works would also see the replacement of ‘bird protection systems’ and the installation of a ‘crash barrier protection system’ around an external column at ground level.

The crash barrier is considered necessary to “ensure the fabric is protected from accidental damage, which could result in significant harm to the building”.

Elsewhere, the installation of secondary glazing aims to “improve the overall energy performance of the building”.

Sunderland Magistrates Court.

The heritage statement confirms works are required to “improve and enhance the use of the building as part of an operational Magistrates’ Court for the Ministry of Justice and ensure its protection of the building for future generations”.

According to planning documents, the Magistrates’ Court building was designed by “renowned local architects W.M & T.R Milburn” who designed a number of recognisable buildings in the local area, including the Empire Theatre.

A heritage statement also sets out the historical, aesthetic and communal value of the Magistrates’ Court, describing it as “part of the finest architectural examples in Sunderland”.

The heritage statement goes on to say: “The building presents communal value in that it is retained in its original use as a courthouse, and many people will be able to collectively remember the building as part of the historic city”.

A decision on plans for the internal and external works and listed building consent will be made by council planners once a period of consultation has concluded.

For more information on the planning application or to track its progress, visit Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal and search reference: 22/01245/FUL