• An exceptional Freehold development opportunity extending to approximately 3.49 acres (1.41 hectares) in central Reading, in close proximity to a mainline train station.
    • Central to the site is the unique Grade II listed historic prison building arranged over part basement, ground and three upper floors. In addition to an administrative building, amenities building, gym / workshop and a number of more modern buildings.
    • Pre-application response from Reading Borough Council emphasises the importance of re-using the listed building element and integrating the site redevelopment with the Abbey Quarter immediately to the west of the site.
    • Pre-application response from Historic England confirms the principle of new development around the listed prison is accepted, given the precedent set by modern prison buildings.
    • The site is offered with full vacant possession.
    • Offers are invited for our client’s Freehold interest.



Reading has a thriving economy and has become a popular location for local, national and international companies. Reading’s commercial community is diverse, accommodating a range of businesses, in particular the financial, professional and technological sectors.

Reading boasts a high quality talent pool, supported by The University of Reading, one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities, attracting a vibrant community of around 17,000 students from over 150 different countries, 20% of whom typically remain in the Reading area post graduation.

Reading, widely known as the ‘capital’ of the Thames Valley, is one of the
most thriving urban centres in the South East offering waterside town
centre living, a growing economy and easy access to both London and the
surrounding countryside

Reading, widely known as the ‘capital’ of the Thames Valley, is one of the most thriving urban centres in the South East offering waterside town centre living, a growing economy and easy access to both London and the surrounding countryside.

The town is home to around 160,000 people, while the wider urban area includes more than 320,000 people. The population is young, diverse and highly educated, attracted to the town by a dynamic business environment and high quality of life.

The central district is focused around the banks of the River Kennet providing al fresco, riverside dining and drinking alongside an extensive shopping and leisure offer.






Reading is strategically positioned on the M4/Thames Valley corridor benefitting from some of the best connectivity in the South East. The site takes full advantage of this connectivity, occupying a prime position in Reading town centre, with easy access to both rail and road networks.

The site is located approximately 600m from Reading station. Direct services to London Paddington run every 10 minutes at peak times with a journey time of 25 minutes. The station is also a key node for access to Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff and Oxford.

Reading will furthermore benefit from the forthcoming Elizabeth Line which once operational will provide four trains per hour into Central London.

The site additionally benefits from easy access to the road network, located approximately 3 miles from the M4 motorway providing direct access to Heathrow Airport (27 miles), Central London (41 miles) and the West.



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 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.



The site offers a unique opportunity to undertake a sensitive redevelopment with the internal conversion of the listed prison building at the heart of the proposals, subject to obtaining the necessary consents.

Based on the pre-application feedback, there is in principle, the potential for alternative uses at the prison, including residential, hotel, student accommodation and an element of cultural use. Subject to obtaining the required planning consent, there is also potential for further development within the prison grounds.

A detailed feasibility study for a mixed-use redevelopment of the site has been prepared by the architects, Purcell. The illustrative drawings on this page reflect the scheme that was designed as part of the pre-application process. This scheme has been reviewed by Reading Borough Council and Historic England, with feedback held in the data room. The overall proposals reflect the potential to integrate the site with the wider Abbey Quarter.


The following reports are available within the Data Room:

    • Pre-application responses from Reading Borough Council and Historic England
    • Planning report
    • Heritage report
    • Archaeological report
    • Architectural feasibility report
    • Environmental survey
    • Ecology survey
    • Topographical survey
    • Flood risk assessment
    • Transport assessment
    • EPC

    The reports available in the Data Room are provided for information only and on a non-reliance basis.

Unconditional / conditional offers are invited for our client’s Freehold interest on an informal tender basis. The vendor will not be obliged to accept any tenders received.

Please see the bid proforma for details.

The property may be inspected strictly through prior appointment only via the vendor’s sole agent, JLL. Please contact a member of the disposal team to arrange viewings.


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+44 (0)78 4119 9840

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