Plans to extend Kirkcaldy police station will pave the way for the closure of the town’s sheriff court and the creation of a new justice centre.
The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) wants to create new courtroom space in the historic police station building in St Brycedale Avenue.
While the short-term plan is to retain the existing court at nearby Whytecauseway, documents seen by The Courier highlight a longer-term intention to adapt the entire police station building into an “enlarged justice centre”.
The building will provide the “full range of justice services from a single location” in Kirkcaldy.
The news will be welcomed by campaigners who have long argued for a new court in the Lang Toun.
It comes after work on a £30 million project to deliver Scotland’s first purpose-built justice centre in Inverness got underway earlier this year.
The plans have come to light as part of a SCTS planning application for listed building consent for changes to the police station building, which was constructed in 1902 as the Burgh Hall and is under-used at present.
A supporting statement said the move will deliver improved court services in Kirkcaldy for all court users, including victims, witnesses and jurors, and will benefit the wider community.
“New court rooms will improve the efficiency and flexibility in managing day-to-day business enhance performance and maximise the use of technology,” it said.
“Existing court facilities at the Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court nearby at Whytescauseway would be retained but there is opportunity to adapt the entire police station building at a later stage into an enlarged justice centre providing the full range of justice services from a single location in Kirkcaldy.”
The original Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court building was built in 1894 and had a modern extension added in 1982.
Critics have raised concerns about the layout and facilities, which mean witnesses and accused sometimes have to pass each other on stairwells. A SCTS consultation in 2012 conceded the accommodation was “not of the standard” it would wish.
SCTS plan to occupy part of the ground and first floor of the existing police station buildings, with the police using the remaining southern part of the building as well as the existing cell block to the rear.
The new court facilities would comprise two courtrooms, interview rooms, sheriff’s chambers, jury muster and retiring rooms, witness rooms, custody cells and ancillary toilet and storage accommodation.
One court would use the former Burgh Hall at first floor level and another – the duty court – would be created on the ground floor by amalgamating rooms currently used as the police recreation room, canteen and kitchen.
Part of the small rear courtyard at the building would be used for a ground-floor extension with six custody cells and interview rooms.
The first phase of the project could be completed as early as October next year if all goes to plan.