An old courthouse in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, is to get a new lease of life as a jewellery and goldsmithing centre of excellence.

Planning permission has been approved by Kilkenny County Council for refurbishment works at Sessions House on Logan Street, formerly Thomastown's courthouse, and the project is expected to start by the end of the year.

The community and arts group in Thomastown has long sought to repurpose the property as a "living building" for the future, and funding has been committed to the council for its refurbishment from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

The Design and Crafts Council Ireland (DCCI), based in Kilkenny city, has agreed to come on board with a proposal to house their jewellery and goldsmithing centre of excellence at the location.

The work which needs to be done includes internal and second floor modifications to meet modern building standards, as well as conservation needs ensure the retention of the property’s character.

"This fine structure has been vacant for far too long," Councillor Peter 'Chap' Cleere, chairman of the Callan/Thomastown Municipal District, said.

"There can be no doubt that its re-use will breathe new life into the Logan Street area as a focus of creative and cultural activity."

Partners in the redevelopment of Sessions House include the council, the DCCI, Kilkenny Leader Partnership, and the Department of Rural and Community Development.