Reading Prison put back up for sale

Reading Prison closed in 2013

Reading’s disused former prison is back on the market once again. 

Since it closed in 2013, the Grade 2 listed building has hosted successful art exhibitions and most recently become a canvas for Banksy.

It has been at the heart of Reading since 1844, immortalised by its most famous inmate Oscar Wilde.

Now the future of the site is in doubt again. Last month the Ministry of Justice rejected a £2.6billion plan by Reading Borough Council to transform the former jail into an artistic hub, including housing.

At the time it said it was disappointed with the decision, claiming the government hadn’t given the bid for the empty building ‘due consideration’. 

The MP for Reading East, Matt Rodda, also said he was concerned.

Now the Ministry of Justice it is looking for new bids for the site, saying that the sale would ‘seek the best value for taxpayers and be reinvested into the justice system’.

Banksy created this artwork on the wall of the prison site

Toby Davies is one of the campaigners who has been working for years to preserve the future of the site. 

He says this is the last chance to make Reading prison a cultural hub that the town could be proud of.  

However campaigners like Toby are concerned that the site may instead only be developed for housing.

The Ministry of Justice will be now welcoming bids until the middle of August.