“This is the first time a purpose made provision has been created in the county for the exclusive use of inquest hearings. This new facility will enable the team to work in a more streamlined way, making full use of modern digital technology and provide the best service possible for bereaved families in the county.”
Jane Parker, Head of Registrars Service & Lead Manager for Coroners Service, Suffolk County Council
The Brief: Following the transfer of responsibility for Coroner’s Courts from police to county councils, a review was undertaken by Suffolk County Council to see if the Coroner’s Court service could be geographically rationalised within one location. The project had a short timescale and Concertus was appointed as we had the experience and could provide a one-stop shop for all the disciplines required to enable a successful delivery.
The Aim: The aim was to remodel an existing space in Beacon House (at first floor level), to accommodate two courtrooms - one with a capacity to seat 80 people and the other to seat 20-30 and offices for the coroners and their teams. There was a remit to ensure the rooms had the flexibility to be used by the client as bookable spaces for meetings and events when not in use by the Coroner’s Court. Other spaces provided include a jury suite, media room, a range of meeting rooms, waiting room and family room and ancillary spaces.
The Scope: We worked with a number of stakeholders including other commercial tenants occupying the building throughout the construction work. Our experience and additional skills meant that we were able to recommend, advise and consult to make the process as painless to the end-user as possible, whilst minimising the impact on existing tenants on a day to day basis. We were instrumental in teasing out from the Coroner’s team their requirements for the new facility. There was very little (or no) published guidance on the requirements for Coroner’s Courts. Once the brief was established aimed at meeting both present and future requirements for the Courts, the Concertus team was able to propose and implement a design that was fit-for-purpose for current requirements and had an element of future-proofing built into it to enable the Courts to take advantage of modern technology.
We had to obtain planning permission for change of use so that the area of Beacon House housing the Coroner’s Court could be used by the public. We also worked very closely with the IT team at Suffolk County Council, to ensure the requirements of the Coroner’s Court team were incorporated within the building infrastructure. For instance, additional cabling and screens were installed to enable ‘live’ interviews and tele-conferencing to take place opening up the possibility of witnesses giving evidence remotely – from virtually anywhere in the world.
Alongside the remodelling for the Coroner’s Court, the project incorporated several upgrade elements to the building generally replacing air conditioning units, installing a new ventilation system for the entire first floor, upgrade to the lift and new ‘intelligent’ lighting, again to the whole of the first floor.
The Result: Delivered on time and budget, the new Coroner’s Court is now centralised all in one place and operates from modern facilities that provide a conducive, appropriate and sympathetic environment for the Coroner’s team, professionals, volunteers and families visiting the courts.