Draft development guide floated for prison

by Jim Dunton Tue 11 February 2014, 4:15 pm

Reading Borough Council has published draft planning guidance for potential future developers of Reading Prison, which was decommissioned by the government last year.

The historic building in the town’s Abbey Quarter is Grade II listed and was immortalised in Oscar Wilde’s poem “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”.

It was closed in December, and the Ministry of Justice plans to sell the site.

Reading said its Draft Outline Development Framework for the prison - which is out to consultation until 11 April - would help to shape the building's future use.

The council said it was not indicating any preference for possible options, but instead wanted to highlight the history of the prison, along with relevant national and local planning policies that would need to be taken into consideration by any potential buyer keen to develop the site.

Councillor Tony Page, Reading’s planning lead, said the historical significance of the prison and its place within the wider Abbey area needed to be fully appreciated by any prospective purchaser.

“By publishing this document, we are effectively reminding all potential future buyers or developers that a high level of protection exists on the site,” he said.

“The document clearly outlines the local and national planning policies potential developers need to adhere to when considering possible future uses for the site.

"Importantly, it also highlights the need for detailed archaeological investigations and conservation assessments of the building and the historical importance of its location.”

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