Here to open the minds of local residents, visitors and trade on the regeneration of the Farringdon Smithfield area and the wider Clerkenwell neighbourhood
Friday, 20 March 2015
Brothers’ private club plan for former court house building in Clerkenwell
The Old Sessions House view of the Dome
Two Swedish brothers who bought an old Clerkenwell court house for an eye-watering £13.5million plan to turn it into a “social gathering point” that includes a private members’ club and a rooftop swimming pool.
The Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell Green, where convicts were once sentenced to death, will become home to a wine bar, restaurant and either offices or a private members’ club, if Islington Council’s planning committee approves the proposals on Tuesday.
The Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell Green was sold for £13.5m
Last year the building, most recently in use as a masonic lodge, was bought by Swedish property developers and interior designers Ted and Oliver Grebelius of Satila Studios.
On their website the brothers state that they aim to “restore the [building’s] former glory by reinstating key original design features but also making it work as a modern building”.
The duo plan to restore a number of historic features including the main court room, the judges’ dining room and an 18th-century glazed screen between the court and the impressive domed hall. The remnants of prisoner cells on the ground floor, the prisoners staircase and cell windows have been uncovered and will remain exposed.
They also propose to construct a roof extension to create two roof terraces, including a rooftop pool. On the ground floor, the brothers want to create a food court with small shops.
The historian and retired planner Alec Forshaw has advised the brothers in making the design historically sensitive, and the brothers have also have had guidance from the conservation officer at Islington Council and English Heritage.
David Gibson, who chairs the Islington Society, welcomed the proposals. He said: “I think it has been carefully and sensitively designed, and the plans won’t do any damage to the building. They also plan to restore some of the building’s original features, which is welcome.”
The Grade-II listed building was built in 1779 and was the biggest and busiest courthouse in England for over 100 years. It was in use by magistrates until 1921.
The council has received eight objections to the plans from surrounding residents, with some raising concerns over potential disturbance to neighbours, but officers have recommended them for approval.
The committee meeting at Islington Town Hall will start at 7.30pm