DEMOLITION work is due to start on the former Rotherham Law Courts building this week as council bosses press on with preliminary work in their town centre masterplan.
Stripping out of the canalside complex’s interior is due to begin by the end of the week, with pulling down the building itself to follow later in the summer or in the autumn.
Rotherham Borough Council is also planning to revamp and “open up” the footbridge between adjacent Forge Island in the coming weeks amid safety concerns.
The bridge, which is dark and dingy inside, has been plagued by litter and graffiti and complaints have been made about the safety of people using it to cross between the car park on the former Tesco site and the town centre.
Demolition of the law courts — which closed last year and used to house the Magistrates’ Court, Coroner’s Court and County Court — is due to be completed before the end of the year.
The works is being carried out by Rotherham based contractor G. Morley Ltd.
The council snapped up the law courts for £1 from Her Majesty's Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) after the closure.
The council’s masterplan, which was published last month, envisions a large-scale leisure development on Forge Island, the former Guest and Chrimes site and the court site at The Statutes, including hopes for a hotel, a public sports facility a cinema and theatre.
Work on the bridge — which is expected to last three weeks and will be carried out by Peninsula Access Ltd — will see the removal of the roof and sides to make it “light, bright, and airy”.
The footbridge will be closed during this time and the main pedestrian exit will be via the main road bridge on to Market Street, a council spokeswoman said.
Businesses in the Riverside Precinct will be open as usual and can be accessed from Corporation Street.
The council’s cabinet member for jobs and the local economy, Cllr Denise Lelliott, said the work was being done in response to resident complaints about anti-social behaviour.
“In the longer term, the bridge will be completely replaced as part of the development of Forge Island as a leisure destination,” she said.
“However, shoppers using the Forge Island car park have told us they do not feel safe using the current bridge because it is enclosed so opening it up will make it feel much more welcoming.”
The spokeswoman pointed out that Forge Island currently had 300 parking spaces for visitors to the town centre, which are free all-day at weekends plus two hours’ free parking in the car park's 'red zone' on weekdays.
Work is currently underway to provide 200 more parking spaces on the site, which will aos be free at weekends.