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Old Courthouse update 10/11/23

Please see the latest update from Cumberland Council on the Old Courthouse that we have received.

"Work to assess, and put plans in place, for the Old Courthouse building in Cockermouth are continuing.

Agencies - including Natural England, Historic England, the Environment Agency and Cumberland Council - are assessing options for the site which partially collapsed last month. The site is highly complex and a series of issues impact on the options available:

  • The site is land locked, access to allow any works to be undertaken is challenging.

  • The building is Grade II listed and any further works is required to be minimal to protect the fabric of the historic building.

  • The River Cocker, adjacent to the site discharges into the River Derwent which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

  • The impact on waste flows and the protection of flood defences need to be given careful consideration.

  • Any works need to minimise pollution from any debris.

Cumberland Council spokesperson said:

“Alongside partners, we are exploring all possible options for the site. As it is a Listed Building, adjacent to a river course and land locked, there are complex issues to resolve to ensure all parties are in agreement.

“These assessments are needed as part of the process, and we are legally obliged to do all we can to put in place measures which protect safety as well the fabric of the building and take into consideration the site’s location.

“Partner agencies have been extremely supportive and collectively, we are doing all we can to move this work forward as quickly as we can, within the constraints we have to tackle.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson added:

“We are continuing to work closely with Cumberland Council following the partial collapse of the building into the river at Cockermouth.

“While the debris in the river is likely to slightly increase flood risk, we have put measures in place to manage this and continue to monitor the forecast and river levels, with incident teams ready to respond if needed.”

Structural engineers working on behalf of Cumberland Council have made assessments of the interior of the Old Courthouse building in Cockermouth after the council was granted a warrant to gain entry. A warrant of entry was granted on Monday (30 October) at Workington’s Magistrates’ Court.

Following the partial collapse of the building earlier this month, Cumberland Council issued a Notice of Intention of Emergency Works under section 78 of the Building Act 1984. This listed the emergency work they undertaken to remove the imminent danger caused by the building. This included installing fencing and installing a covered walkway across the Cocker bridge.

The council also informed the owner of the property that they required access to the property and would soon be serving a further notice using section 54 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. This enables a local authority to carry out urgent works for the preservation of listed buildings in their area after giving notice to the owner. Some exterior assessments of the site have already been undertaken a LiDAR survey which has provided a 3D map of the building. A contractor is continuing to work with the council to assess access to the site and is helping to determine how any works could be undertaken.

The bridge over the river Cocker continues to remain closed to traffic, as a precautionary measure, but a walkway is available for pedestrians and cyclists. This opened on Thursday 12 October. Temporary traffic lights have been installed in Kirkgate and the on-street parking in this area has been suspended to help manage the flow of traffic through the town. The river embankment has been fenced off in the potential drop zone.

Cockermouth is open for business. Please continue to support local traders. Cumberland Council is continuing to support affected residents and businesses.

Members of the public can check their flood risk at Check the long term flood risk for an area in England - GOV.UK ("

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