Taxpayers are shelling out eight thousand pounds a month for Reading Prison, which has no prisoners. The building has been standing empty since November, as part of a plan to replace four jails with a super-prison. Now pressure is mounting on the Ministry of Justice to sell the site as soon as possible. Juliette Fletcher reports.
Reading Borough Council is moving to protect the heritage and history of the former Reading Prison site with the publication of a key planning document.
The was closed by the Government in December 2013. Now empty, the Ministry of Justice intends to sell the site.
The forthcoming sale has prompted the council to publish what is known as an Outline Development Framework.
The document outlines the history of the site and its importance in the context of the wider Abbey area. It does not indicate any preference for possible future uses of the site.
But it does highlight relevant planning policies. The document also makes clear the requirement for a detailed archaeological investigation and appraisal for the former prison site in advance of any planning application being lodged by any potential developer.
Campaigners are calling for Reading Prison to be saved from demolition after it was announced the Victorian jail is to be closed.
Reading Borough Council says it plans to keep the building. Deputy Leader Cllr Tony Page says any future development must be in keeping with its location.
Hundreds of prison staff could lose their jobs after the Government announced it's to shut four jails - including Reading and Dorchester. It's part of plans to modernise prisons and cut costs. Mel Bloor reports.
After the news that Reading prison is to close, MP Rob Wilson for Reading East has said that the 'decision offers an opportunity to do something new and positive with the land.'
He also added, "The important thing now is that we have a proper consultation of local people so they can have their say on what is the best use we can make of the site, while deciding at the same time whether all or part of the heritage of the prison is worth preserving.
"It is important that local people have their say on the future of this landmark site."
Following an announcement in a Parliamentary Statement by the Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation, Jeremy Wright MP, Reading prison will close.
Rob Wilson MP for Reading East had this to say: