A planning application has been submitted by Bradford Council to convert a building on Cater Street in Little Germany into the new court – replacing the existing outdated facility based within Bradford Magistrate’s Court.
The application includes the first images of what the inside of the building will look like once the court opens – including a vastly improved waiting area for families.
If the application is approved, work is expected to begin on converting the building early next year.
The main Coroner for Bradford has, for years, maintained that the current facility is not suitable.
It requires grieving families to enter the Court building through the same entrance as defendants in criminal court cases.
They have to pass though a metal detector, empty any bags and undergo a body scan before they enter.
They then have to wait in a cramped waiting room – often with people who have been responsible for their loved one’s death.
The court will cover the Council Districts of Bradford, Calderdale, and Kirklees. All three Councils contribute to the running cost of the current Coroner’s Court and this will continue to be the case once the new facility opens.
As well as the change of use for 1 Cater Street to a coroner’s court, the application is also to separate the building, constructed in 1862, from a building on Peckover Street – which it is attached to by shared doorways.
The application says a number of historic features int he building will be restored, with some more modern additions removed.
This includes the doorway on Cater Street. A main entrance to the court building will be created to open onto a neighbouring courtyard area.
The application says: “The existing premises, co-located with the Magistrates’ Court, are not fit for purpose and do not comply with current Health & Safety and DDA requirements.
“Attending a Coroner’s inquest can be a distressing and difficult experience for relatives and friends and the prescribed standard is to provide a welcoming and safe environment for the bereaved. The existing accommodation does not provide this.
“A Coroner’s Court needs to be suitable for families and people in a state of distress. It needs to achieve a level of authority just as any Court but at the same time needs to be sufficiently flexible to be accessible to people who are attending through unfortunate circumstances.”
The new facility will also have three courts, one on each of the upper level floors, including one that is designed for juries.
This means that, unlike the existing court, multiple inquests can be held at one time.
It also provides better facilities for juries. If a jury trial is held at the current coroner’s court, jury members have to pass through security in the magistrate’s court, and are then accompanied between the entrance and jury room to ensure they are suitably sequestered from the Coroner.
The new facility will have a layout that will allow the jury to remain separate from the public, press and families.
Works will also include acoustic improvements to prevent noise spreading between courts.
A decision on the application is expected next month.