Courthouse Expansion Plans


Possible expansion of Otley Courthouse

Otley Courthouse has been given permission, by Leeds City Council, to develop an expansion on the council-owned land to the rear of the Courthouse .

It is important to stress that we are at very early stages of this process – talking to various interested parties. There is also no funding in place to allow it to happen –  but it would certainly be an exciting development.

At the moment we are looking to include the following spaces / facilities in an expanded Courthouse:

• Bigger auditorium – up to 350 capacity (seated) – with permanent, extendable stage, retractable seating, music and cinema sound systems, full LCD lighting rig, digital cinema equipment and screen, sprung floor
•    Larger cafe/bar area (the present cafe / bar to become cafe only, and a new bar in the extension)
•    New entrance onto the car park and Separate Foyer and reception area – probably evening use only
•    Additional Toilets
•    Green Room and a Get-in entrance for performers
•    Storage Space for technical equipment
•    Additional artists’ studios / small business spaces / meetings rooms / music practice rooms / gallery space / public media rooms and other spaces that might be suggested during the consultation and planning stages.

We are looking into these possibilities for the following reasons:

•    Otley lacks a large, central, multi-use, public space with bar facilities. There are therefore events that cannot easily take place in the town
•    There are acts that we cannot attract to Otley at present because of limited venue size (the Courtroom seats 140)
•    Otley Courthouse has a proven track record of providing an Arts and Resource Centre for the town (since 2004)
•    Otley Courthouse has the staffing, systems and marketing infrastructure already in place to support a larger venue attached to the current building. There would be some necessary scaling up – but this would be achieved considerably more efficiently than a standalone venue would require
•    A larger venue would attract new business to Otley – conferences, training days, parties etc. It would also aloow the present Courtroom venue to be used by local groups on a greater number of occasions – we currently have to turn groups away because of the pressure of events programming
•    The area to the rear of the Courthouse would become a more vibrant part of the conservation area of the town – extending the effective town centre area down towards the river
•    Car-parking is not an issue
•    The project is in tune with the Leeds 2023 cultural plans
•    Otley Courthouse has the expertise to attract funding to such a project.

Our next step will be to involve the local community and Courthouse supporters by asking them to provide feedback on our initial ideas.
We will also be applying for funding to develop the ideas further and to put together a business plan for an expanded Courthouse.
You can view a summary of the responses to our recent survey here. Many thanks to all that completed it.



Otley Courthouse is a unique development run by people in Otley, West Yorkshire. After an eight year development period we transformed a redundant nineteenth century magistrates court into a unique arts and resource centre for our community.

Find out about the history of Otley Courthouse by visiting the Heritage section of our website.


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Otley Courthouse, Courthouse Street, Otley, West Yorkshire LS21 3AN

Telephone: 01943 467466 email:

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