THE JURY has delivered its verdict on the future of one of the oldest surviving public buildings in the New England.
The former Armidale Courthouse has been transferred to to Armidale Regional Council ownership, for a nominal fee of $1and included on the State Heritage Register.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall joined with Armidale Regional Council (ARC) Mayor Sam Coupland on Thursday at the 162-year-old building to make the announcement and hand over the keys to the building.
Mr Marshall said the gazetting marks the end of a five-year campaign to have one of the NSW's earliest regional courthouses recognised.
"Like an anxious plaintiff waiting for a ruling, it is with a huge sense of relief that this long running campaign, led by passionate locals, has come to such a positive conclusion," Mr Marshall said.
"The listing includes the former Armidale Courthouse ( built in 1860 and altered in 1870 and 1897 ) and the adjacent Sheriff's Cottage, which was built in 1878."
The listing also includes a collection of moveable heritage items, including intact furniture and fixtures located in the main courtroom.
A conservation management plan and a moveable heritage collection register has been prepared by Property NSW and will guide council's conservation and development of the well-known complex into a 'vibrant facility'.
"The former Armidale Courthouse highlights the legacy of three successive NSW Colonial Architects - Alexander Dawson, James Barnet and Walter Liberty Vernon," Mr Marshall said.
"They were all prominent and distinguished figures who left a significant mark on the built fabric and history of our State."
The heritage listing coincided with an Armidale Regional Council decision to officially accept ownership of the courthouse from Property NSW. Mayor Coupland said council will undertake extensive community consultation on its repurposing.
"Whatever its final use I am pleased that the courthouse will one day be restored and again contributing to Armidale life," said Mr Marshall.
"It is great news that this spectacular building will remain in public hands and be used as a community precinct that will reinvigorate the Beardy Street Mall.
"It's easily one of our most recognisable buildings, right in the heart of the city, and to see it reinvigorated some 162 years after it was built will add a new strong to the bow of the Armidale CBD.
"It's been effectively locked up since the new courthouse was constructed in 2013, so it'll be great to see this beautiful old building used and cared for once again.
"I look forward to now working with council on securing funding to undertake the significant improvements needed bring the space up to modern health and safety standards."
Last week, Mr Marshall announced the $925,000 state government funded refurbishment of the former Uralla Courthouse was now underway.
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