A new home for civil, family and tribunal hearings in Newcastle has officially opened, providing an accessible, single space for this work in the city.
Based in Newcastle Civic Centre, the modern space provides 25 courtrooms for civil, family and tribunal hearings. It replaces a number of buildings that previously heard this work.
Set across three floors, all the courtrooms are set up for remote hearings. The building will deal with civil and family work as well as immigration and asylum, employment and social security and child support tribunals.
Construction began in 2018, with work moving over from other courts in in the city in 2020. Newcastle City Council carried out the construction work on behalf of HMCTS, with Sir Robert McAlpine appointed to deliver the project.
"By consolidating civil, family and tribunal hearings into a single, contemporary setting, Newcastle Civil and Family Court and Tribunals centre replaces a number of ageing buildings on our estate with a single, economically sustainable, and accessible space," explained Kevin Sadler, CEO of HMCTS. "The new centre provides a modern, fit for purpose court space for the people of Newcastle. I am delighted that it is now bringing civil, family and tribunal work into one place in the city, and making it easier for people to access justice."
More than 130 members of HMCTS staff and judiciary will work at the building, and all civil, family and tribunal work in the city will now primarily take place at the new centre.
The opening of the centre is the first part of a wider plan for the courts in Newcastle, which has also seen conversion of the existing Newcastle Combined Court into a combined Crown Court and Magistrates’ Court.
"Newcastle Civic Centre was a statement of confidence in the city when it was opened in 1968. Some councils have sold their offices and moved to new offices, but we decided to recommit to this magnificent building to create a public sector hub that would create jobs and strengthen the local economy," said Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes. "By working with the Government’s Property Agency, HM Courts and Tribunals Service and Sir Robert McAlpine we have put the word civic back into the Civic Centre and generated an income to support public services."
James is the Editor of Government Transformation magazine, and has been covering digital government and public sector reform for 20 years. He also oversees the development of the agenda for the UK's biggest public sector transformation conference.