What next for Aylesbury’s landmark courthouse?

Old County Hall in Aylesbury, part of which houses the crown court
Old County Hall in Aylesbury, part of which houses the crown court

There’s a pretty grand building in Aylesbury’s Market Square that the council doesn’t know what to do with – and any suggestions are welcome.

In 2017 Aylesbury Crown Court, currently housed in part of the old County Hall, will move to the site of the current magistrates’ court in Walton Street.

Bucks County Council owns the 18th-century building and is currently considering what it might do with the vacant space.

The Aroma Works day spa will open in the historic cells of the building this May, and council leader Martin Tett wants members of the public to decide the rest of the site’s future.

He said: “It’s difficult because one of the court rooms is listed, so some big ideas could be restricted by that.

“We want to maintain the character of the building, but with a good community-based use. It could be a hotel, a community centre or even a music venue, anything is possible.

“Someone has already been in touch to suggest turning it into an art gallery.

“I’m really keen on it being something which generates something for the community.

“We are at a really early stage at the moment, and we don’t want to leave it derelict, so we need people to come forward and tell us what they think it should be.”

He added: “Obviously the ideas have to be sensible because we need to generate money from the building, but we really want to hear what people think.”

After the Civic Centre closed in 2010, many believe that Aylesbury is missing out on a mid-sized music venue.

The town used to attract big names including David Bowie, Genesis, The Clash, Blondie and Motorhead who played in conjunction with the legendary Friars Club.

And Friars founder David Stopps says he is keen to have a look around the court building, to see if it might fit the bill for future live events.

He said: “I’ve not been inside but hope to soon. Any place that could be used as a music venue would be welcomed, Aylesbury is missing a venue which has capacity for 400 to 700 people.”

Mr Stopps, who is currently petitioning for a crowdfunded statue to mark David Bowie’s links with Aylesbury, which would be under the arches by the court building, said: “If it could be used in any way for gigs, or as a community hall with multiple uses, then that would be absolutely brilliant, that’s really what we need.”