PLANS to knock down a former town centre court house and replace it with homes have been revealed.

Durham County Council has received a planning application to demolish Consett Magistrates’ Court on Ashdale Road.

The building has been empty since it was closed in July last year and the application has been lodged by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Once the site has been cleared outline planning permission will be sought to build 20 houses on the site.

An HCA spokesman said: “In the case of the former magistrates’ court, planning documents including the ‘Consett Town Centre redevelopment framework and masterplan’ have identified there is a need for more housing in the town.

“We have therefore started a process to prepare the site for redevelopment and provide 20 much needed homes.

“Following demolition of the building, we will be applying for outline planning permission for a residential development on the site which will determine the exact number of new homes that can be built.

“We will then seek to market the site and engage a local developer or contractor to take the development proposals forward.”

The court was closed when former Justice Secretary Michael Gove looked to cut “surplus capacity” in HM Courts and Tribunal Service.”