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JD Wetherspoon buys the former magistrates' court, Park Road, Sittingbourne

By Hayley Robinson

The town’s former courthouse has been saved from demolition.

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has confirmed it has bought the site in Park Road for an undisclosed sum and that it plans to spend £1.5 million transforming it into a watering-hole.

A new name for the proposed pub?

It already runs The Summoner, which is at the bottom of the High Street near Bell Road. It’s understood there are no plans to close it in light of the new development.

Spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “There are no plans to demolish it at all.

“It needs planning permission and a licence and we are looking to put in applications for both of these in due course. If we get them we will start developing it.

“It’s an interesting looking building and we will remodel it like we have done with other sites such as theatres and post offices. There is also an option to have a beer garden at this site.”

Former mayor Peter Morgan

The news has been welcomed by Peter Morgan, who started a petition to save the property after he failed with his original appeal to English Heritage for it to be listed and turned into a community centre.

He has also pleaded with councillors to look at extending the town centre conservation area to cover it.

More recently Mr Morgan enlisted the help of Sittingbourne Heritage Museum to front his approach to the local authority for it to be listed as an Asset of Community Value.

Kaspa's will open in what was The Summoner in Sittingbourne High Street

Introduced by the government in 2012, the scheme forces local authorities to maintain a list of buildings of importance which are nominated by local parish councils or organisations.

Groups are then given time to make a bid for the “asset” when it’s sold.

He said: “I always had the gut feeling that the planning authority would be very constrained in refusing permission for the site to be demolished but I was still willing to fight in the hope that something would happen.

“I’m happy about it as long as the retain they outside of this iconic building.”

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