WORK to transform the former Grays Magistrates' Court building into a business centre - creating 200 jobs - will begin later this month.

Beardwell Construction, based in the town, has been selected by Thurrock Council to carry out refurbishment work to the iconic building at the northern end of the High Street and work begins this month.

It involves a 40-week programme that should ensure the new business centre - The Old Courthouse - will be operational in the spring of next year.

Beardwell will remodel the internal layout of the building to produce 39 small business units – each with modern IT and telephone facilities.

The work also includes an extension to the Registrar’s House, providing additional business units and the addition of mezzanine floor above both former courtrooms creates additional office space. The remodelled building will also include everything a modern business needs – high-quality accommodation, meeting rooms, and other facilities as well as external landscaping.

Thurrock Council leader, John Kent, welcomed Duncan Clark, Beardwell’s managing director and chairman Paul Beardwell to the site on Monday.

He said: “Once completed this refurbishment will bring another 200 jobs to the town centre which, combined with the new college at the southern end of the High Street, should mean we start to see a new and exciting Grays town centre as hundreds of people come here to work and study.”

The aim of the refurbishment is to transform the building internally while retaining its iconic external façade.

The new centre will be operated by NWES (Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services Ltd) a not for profit organisation which also runs the former Post Office site in nearby George Street.

Any organisation seeking access to funding and business premises should contact NWES Services 0845 4374465 or drop into Thurrock Centre for Business.