The site extends to 3.49 acres (1.41 ha).
The site comprises the Grade II listed main prison building, positioned centrally within the site, an administrative building, amenities building, gym / workshop and a number of more modern buildings.
The site is bordered to the north and east by Forbury Road (A329), and surrounded by a mix of land uses including Forbury Retail Park to the north, and a future residential development, Huntley Wharf, to the east. A mix of residential and office accommodation lies to the south, west and east of the site.
The Chestnut Walk footpath runs directly along the southern perimeter of the site, in parallel with the River Kennett on the opposite side of the footpath.
MOJ FREEHOLD LAND (outlined red for indicative purposes only)
The land is held Freehold by MOJ, registered with land registry under title number BK367138 and will be transferred to the buyer upon completion.
The site lies within the administrative boundary of Reading Borough Council.
The property is currently comprised of prison use with ancillary accommodation (Use Class C2a).
The historic prison building is Grade II listed. All other buildings on the site are excluded from this listing. The site is situated within Reading Abbey Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The prison is not within a Conservation Area.
In early 2019, a planning pre-application meeting was held with Reading Borough Council and Historic England in order to establish the parameters of a possible development of the site.
The formal pre-application response from Reading Borough Council states that in principle the listed building element could be suitable for residential, hotel or student accommodation conversion, providing that the proposals integrate a cultural or historic element. The pre-application also noted that the principle of commercial office uses would align with the policy context, although not suggested in current proposals.
In addition to emphasising the importance of reusing the listed prison element in any redevelopment proposals, the Council response also states their desire to integrate the proposals with the Abbey Quarter directly to the west of the site and thereby enhance the location as a heritage / cultural destination.
Reading Borough Council have also outlined in their draft Local Plan their vision for development of the site under Policy CR13a. This section outlines that the main prison building must be used for a use compatible with its heritage. It states that residential, student accommodation, commercial offices and a hotel could be allowed, in addition to a cultural or heritage element, whilst related retail and leisure could also be suitable.
The Historic England pre-application response also outlines their view on development at the site, setting out that the principle of new development around the Gaol is accepted given the precedent set by modern prison buildings and replacing the existing buildings with something of better quality has the potential to enhance the setting of the prison itself.
Further detailed planning information is available to download from the data room, including a detailed planning report undertaken by JLL, pre-application submission documents and the formal pre-application response from Reading Borough Council and Historic England.
Reading prison is uniquely positioned, set within the Medieval Reading Abbey precinct, a Scheduled Monument. The wider precinct includes the Grade I listed Reading Abbey ruins, located adjacent to the prison site and dating back to between the 12th to 14th century. The still standing 19th century prison is a Grade II listed building.
Archaeological matter exists within the grounds of the prison and consists of remains of the Medieval Abbey and former prison buildings.
Medieval matter remains in the open spaces surrounding the current prison, such as the sports pitch, and within the footprint of current buildings. These remains have local, regional and national significance.
The prison is an early example of the conventional radial-plan design and illustrates the development of prison philosophy which therefore gives it high historic significance.
Radial plan prisons became especially popular in the 1840s. A radial prison plan afforded good visibility, ensuring maximum control over prisoners.
The site of Reading Prison was historically part of Reading Abbey, founded in 1121 by Henry I. It was considered one the richest religious houses in the country, and was frequently visited by royalty. Much of the abbey was destroyed in 1538 during Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries – the buildings were robbed, and glass, stone and lead were removed for reuse elsewhere.