The Ministry of Justice’s request proposed ‘repair and improvement works’ to ‘support, improve and enhance’ the use of the Grade II listed building, in Keel Square, and ‘ensure its continued preservation’.
This included the replacement and renewal of certain parts of the building, including the flat roof coverings, as well as waterproofing works and structural improvements in areas such as the basement and the roof.
Under the programme, repair and decoration works were proposed for sloping roofs, masonry, steel beams, exterior doors, plasterwork, chimneys, rainwater drains and pipes of ground.
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Work also included replacement of ‘bird protection systems‘, a ‘collision protection system’ and energy efficiency improvements.
Sunderland City Councils’ conservation team said the work would have a ‘positive impact’ on both the building and the city’s heritage.
Heritage experts said the plans represented a ‘knowledgeable yet practical conservation approach to repair, restoration, upgrading and improvement work’ which would retain and enhance the building’s ‘architectural and historic integrity’ .
The council’s decision report adds: “The proposals are strongly supported as they will repair, restore, improve and ensure the long-term conservation of an important listed building in a sensitive manner and ensure its continued operational use as a court of justice. first instance, while also enhancing the character and appearance of the Bishopwearmouth Conservation Area.
According to planning documents, the Magistrates’ Court building was designed by “renowned local architects” William and TR Milburn, who designed several well-known buildings in the area, including the Empire Theatre.
A heritage statement also noted the historical, aesthetic and community value of Magistrates’ Court, describing it as ‘one of Sunderland’s finest examples of architecture’.
The heritage statement added: “The building has community value in that it is preserved in its original use as a courthouse, and many people will be able to collectively remember the building as part of the historic city. “.
Approval from city development chiefs this week included both a full building permit and a classified building permit.
According to town planning conditions, repair and improvement work must begin within three years.