PLANS to knock down a former town centre court house and replace it with homes have met with anger from residents.

Homes England - the government’s housing delivery agency - has revealed plans to demolish the North Avon Magistrates’ Court building in Yate.

Once the site has been cleared, outline planning permission will be sought to build 50 houses on the site.

The court on Kennedy Way was among 86 courts to close across the country in 2016, as part of government plans to reform the justice system, and has remained empty ever since.

“These plans have upset a lot of people,” said Yate Town Councillor John Gawn, who lives on Stanshawe Crescent, which flanks one side of the court.

“It’s a beautiful brick building, built in 1982.

“We wonder if, rather than being knocked down, it can be put to a better use.”

Cllr Gawn would like to see the court - which has 12 custody cells and eight waiting rooms, and includes a family and youth court - continue to be used as a building for the community.

He also notes that the closure of the court has resulted in many lost policing hours.

“We only have a small police force here, and they have to go to Bath and Bristol magistrates courts for minor offence cases, which are both over 10 miles away.

“When the court in Yate was operational, they could be in and out in half an hour, thus using less manpower." 

Residents became aware of the development proposals when some were invited to an informal drop-in event hosted by Homes England on February 1.

“I only found out about this because a neighbour told me she’d received the leaflet, about the drop-in,” said Cllr Gawn.

“I knocked on several people’s doors, including the houses directly opposite the court, and they hadn’t received a leaflet either.

“But I subsequently made sure people knew about it.

“The drop-in was very well attended, and there were one or two angry people there.

“One of our concerns is that there aren’t yet any developers in place to take the site on, and the court is going to be knocked down and fenced off, before they even know if anyone wants to develop it.”

Homes England were invited to comment, but had not done so as the Gazette went to press.

Members of Yate Town Council are meeting with Homes England today (Thursday) to discuss the plans.