Housing plans for former Eastbourne law courts

Eastbourne Law Courts (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150722-161749008
Eastbourne Law Courts (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150722-161749008

Eastbourne Borough Council is to look at building affordable housing at the town’s former magistrates’ court, if a property purchase is agreed next week.

Next Wednesday (March 20), Eastbourne Borough Council’s cabinet is to consider whether to acquire the disused law courts in Old Orchard Road,  as well as a neighbouring Probation Service building.

According to an officer’s report, the council is looking at the possibility of building affordable housing on the site, which has been vacant since 2017, but says a final decision would be made after any land purchase takes place.

The report says: “Once the land is within the council’s ownership a business case will be developed which will include the advice from both a planning and commercial perspective.

“The council could decide to build the homes in the Housing Revenue Account or through on of its wholly owned entities.

“This will be subject to further due diligence based on the future use and financial viability with cabinet taking the final decision.”

The magistrates’ court closed in late 2016, with cases now being heard in Hastings, while the county court moved in early 2017.

If affordable housing is the preferred option, the report says, more details of the scheme would be made public this summer.

A planning application would then be expected to be lodged before March next year, with the council aiming to finish work on the site by March 2022.

The council is also looking at including office space within the development.

While details of the purchase price have not been made public, ownership of the law courts has been transferred to Homes England who are negotiating the sale to the council on a ‘special purchase basis’, the report says.

Negotiations are underway on the final terms for the sale of the Probation Service building, the report says.