Oldham’s former county court which was being used as an unauthorised home for ‘property guardians’ is to be converted into offices.
The court, on New Radcliffe Street, closed in July 2017, and all cases were transferred to Tameside Magistrate’s Court.
The planning statement submitted to the authority states that it has remained empty whilst ‘alternative uses’ for the building have been found.
These included housing so-called ‘property guardians’ in the building – but this venture was shut down by the town hall after it ruled its living accommodation was ‘substandard’.
Property guardianship is an arrangement by which people are granted accommodation in a property in exchange for keeping it under observation and in good condition, with their continued occupation deterring vandalism.
But officers in Oldham found that there had been ‘no attempt’ to alter the building to make it better for residents, with makeshift showers ‘crudely’ installed on ‘wooden pallets’ in the urinals.
They added that the living accommodation for people living in the ex-court as property guardians was often limited to ‘camping accommodation’.
Consequently in November, officers refused planning permission for it to be converted into a large house of multiple occupation.
However they have now approved new proposals submitted by the building’s owner, Philip J Davies (Holdings) PLC, to convert it into offices.
The plans show the former court would contain open plan office space on three of its floors.
A private 13 bay car park at the rear would serve the new offices.
The agent’s submission to the council states that 50 new jobs would be created at the site.
“The conversion of the former county courts to offices will result in important job creation within the Oldham town centre and certainly help to support its vitality,” it adds.
“It will have no impact on the neighbouring land uses which includes the council’s Civic Centre complex.”
In her report, officer Hannah Lucitt said it was located in a ‘highly sustainable location’, near the bus station and King Street Metrolink stop.
She said: “This imposing building on the edge of ‘Oldham Town Centre’ has been vacant since July 2017, within the exception of its unauthorised occupation as a large HMO.
“The proposal would result in the creation of 50 full time employment opportunities within Oldham town centre, which would help to support its vitality and viability.”