Future of Prison Area

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MickEdge
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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OLDMAN wrote: 10 Mar 2021 15:37 It’s a catch 22
RBC put a bid to MoJ
MoJ want as much money as possible so maybe not enough
Butany developer might be put off because................
RBC have to grant anyone else planning permission so can sort of block that
One way or another a developer has to be found. The MoJ only want money, but how long will they wait? My guess is they will give RBC a while to find a partner, rather than an outright refusal, but will the Council be anymore successful then the MoJ in marketing it. Hope so, as they have more interest in it and a developer might feel happier working directly with the Council.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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From historic England.

", here combined with castellated elements – battlements to the entrance block and central octagon, machicolations under the eaves throughout - intended to give a fortress-like aspect. The visual inspiration for the design, which was much criticised for its elaboration and expense, is said to have been Warwick Castle. The alterations of c.1970 greatly changed the building’s external appearance"
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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I see Kate Winslett has promised to perform on opening night if the prison is turned into an arts centre/theatre: "I'll be there performing on the first night, I sign up to that now." BBC news report.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Nice gesture but the way big public projects go, she might be at the fag end of her career by then

I do wonder what what the actual value of the site is. The listing will be a complete pain to work around for housing whereas the cells could be small workshops/shops/offices in an Arts environment
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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The guy who said we now housing can’t have visited the site, there must be nearly a thousand flats within a 10 minute walk...all at different stages of construction...
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Mayfield wrote: 12 Mar 2021 10:37 The guy who said we now housing can’t have visited the site, there must be nearly a thousand flats within a 10 minute walk...all at different stages of construction...
I think you can more than double that. The three sites directly north of the station (1500), the nearly finished tower where the BMW showroom was (300), Friar St/Garrard St (600), and the Homebase/Toys-R-Us sites (300?).
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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MickEdge wrote: 12 Mar 2021 15:14... and the Homebase/Toys-R-Us sites (300?).
Last figure I saw mentioned was 765 for Huntley Wharf development.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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MickEdge wrote: 12 Mar 2021 15:14
Mayfield wrote: 12 Mar 2021 10:37 The guy who said we now housing can’t have visited the site, there must be nearly a thousand flats within a 10 minute walk...all at different stages of construction...
I think you can more than double that. The three sites directly north of the station (1500), the nearly finished tower where the BMW showroom was (300), Friar St/Garrard St (600), and the Homebase/Toys-R-Us sites (300?).
And Weldale Street - one huge development going up on old Wickes site with the old school site further up the road likely to break turf before the end of the summer. Another 700 or so, maybe more?
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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So, we are now up to over 3,000 new homes. That’s around 6,000 extra people living in the town centre, with no garden, mostly young and wanting things to do outside the home, especially if they are spending more days working from home. It’s a great opportunity to offer a different kind of leisure activity than shopping, quaffing and munching. Anyone whose been to the Edinburgh Fringe knows what great entertainment can be had in a lot of small venues. Not sure how you go about adapting prison cells, though.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Banksy putting his money where his mouth is…

https://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/news ... AwWF_8Rrzw
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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bert wrote: 05 Dec 2021 12:16 Banksy putting his money where his mouth is…

https://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/news ... AwWF_8Rrzw
Be good if it happens. He’d still get a cool five mil for himself AND plenty of recognition for philanthropy......
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Really good. Hope it succeeds . Also osne in the eye for the property developers. Unfortunately for them the building is properly built and a mysterious fire would not have been much use in helping their case
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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I hope the rumour comes true, but the MOJ might take some convincing that pledging an artwork is real money on the table. If they are, and the value is as much as claimed, the MOJ might get greedy, which might not leave enough for the conversion. I hope whoever’s advising the council knows what they’re doing.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by Frank Blank »

I quite liked this Banksy effort. Could serve as a useful template going forward, if it's an 'arts centre' we are talking about.

https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2015/08/dismaland/
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Just don't let the council, who have a history of failed vanity projects run it.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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ChipbuttyG wrote: 06 Dec 2021 09:29 Just don't let the council, who have a history of failed vanity projects run it.
Yet, nobody else appears to be capable of putting together a bid that has such a good chance of succeeding. Hardly a vanity project, given the wide public support for a centre that can be a real benefit to the community and significantly improve the town’s cultural profile. Better than a private development where the only objective is to ensure every square metre has to generate income and profit, which will probably take as long to start work on as the station area has. Maybe changing ownership several times, trading as a piece of real estate with its potential to increase in value.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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MickEdge wrote: 06 Dec 2021 10:52
ChipbuttyG wrote: 06 Dec 2021 09:29 Just don't let the council, who have a history of failed vanity projects run it.
Yet, nobody else appears to be capable of putting together a bid that has such a good chance of succeeding. Hardly a vanity project, given the wide public support for a centre that can be a real benefit to the community and significantly improve the town’s cultural profile. Better than a private development where the only objective is to ensure every square metre has to generate income and profit, which will probably take as long to start work on as the station area has. Maybe changing ownership several times, trading as a piece of real estate with its potential to increase in value.
It's very much a vanity project.

Given the time, effort and money the council have wasted so far on failed bids - wouldn't it have been more prudent to improve The Hexagon? Oh no, that wouldn't get as many headlines....
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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MickEdge wrote: 06 Dec 2021 10:52
ChipbuttyG wrote: 06 Dec 2021 09:29 Just don't let the council, who have a history of failed vanity projects run it.
Yet, nobody else appears to be capable of putting together a bid that has such a good chance of succeeding. Hardly a vanity project, given the wide public support for a centre that can be a real benefit to the community and significantly improve the town’s cultural profile. Better than a private development where the only objective is to ensure every square metre has to generate income and profit, which will probably take as long to start work on as the station area has. Maybe changing ownership several times, trading as a piece of real estate with its potential to increase in value.
:goodposting:
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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So what would you put there if you were running it? It's quite a large space to fill.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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ChipbuttyG wrote: 06 Dec 2021 11:13 - wouldn't it have been more prudent to improve The Hexagon? Oh no, that wouldn't get as many headlines....
TBH the Hexagon in its original concept - in which I was involved as part of the Reading Leisure Committee - was proposed as just that - a ‘professional’ theatre, with flexible space to be used by other functions. We visited other venues (Salisbury and Glasgow) and took ideas back to the then Council…but corners were cut and they wouldn’t spend what was needed… so as for improving the current building, other than retaining the shell and the footprint, they’d really need to gut it and start again. It also wasn’t helped by the Council then using part of the car park under it for they’re own use, which meant ‘punters’ had problems parking. We advised on acoustics - as seen else where - they were ignored too, as was the proposed Fly tower and etc etc.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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The Hegagon (as Pi says) was a 70's economy job and has loads of failings in it's design.
Logistically, it's a nightmare to work in and the sight lines could be better.
I've banged on about it before but I favour creating a performance space in what I believe is the workshop area of the prison, then utilising the Victorian bit for other artistic purposes. Some of the kit from the Hexagon could be moved but cost might not justify it. If possible, keeping the Hex until the prison was at least a half finished project could mean that income/business as usual could carry on, then smaller works on the site could be continued once it's open.

The Hexagon site is quite valuable in it's own right. The trick is to somehow release the value before vacating the building.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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:goodposting: Dave

I worked in the Civic in the 80s and 90s, and had ‘meetings’ in the coffee area do the Hexagon. It was scruffy even then. Saw Level 42 there, in a half empty auditorium and probably the ok the Junior Voices a pantomime at some stage too. Sound wasn’t great. Saw Dara OBrien at the Town Hall, and aside from a totally incomprehensible accent, hearing any of what he said was awful.

IIRC, RBC ran a permit scheme for staff - really stringent criteria to get into Car Park A (which I think was theirs exclusively - OM May remember better than me as I only got into it once!). Car Park B was theirs too, but wasn’t used much by the council, and if it was, then anytime hours mostly of course. Did it impact much on matinee/evening Hexagon performances do,you think Pi?

The prison would make a great theatre IMHO. Imagine the atmospherics if they put on something like Jack the
ripper or Sweeney Todd. I’d quite fancy that. Have a nice bar/cafe venue with a bit of decent nosh and it would pay I’m sure. The rest of the venue seems pretty large, so there must be room for a gallery (Banksy can lend us one of his, lol) and a music performance area wouldn’t go amiss either.

These don’t have to be vast auditoriums - not like the fabled-and-not-materialised Mad Stad is proposed to be - intimate venues can do as well too.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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dave m wrote: 06 Dec 2021 12:50 The Hegagon (as Pi says) was a 70's economy job and has loads of failings in it's design.
Logistically, it's a nightmare to work in and the sight lines could be better……
Agree with all that… it was an uphill battle with it at the time. And as an advisory body we were just ignored. If the Prison area is eventually going to be a Community Leisure area, hopefully the current Council will see more sense :whistle1:
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Voiceoftreason? wrote: 06 Dec 2021 13:05 The prison would make a great theatre IMHO. Imagine the atmospherics if they put on something like Jack the
ripper or Sweeney Todd. I’d quite fancy that. Have a nice bar/cafe venue with a bit of decent nosh and it would pay I’m sure. The rest of the venue seems pretty large, so there must be room for a gallery (Banksy can lend us one of his, lol) and a music performance area wouldn’t go amiss either.

These don’t have to be vast auditoriums - not like the fabled-and-not-materialised Mad Stad is proposed to be - intimate venues can do as well too.
Yes the loss of car-parking space did impact on audiences…. It meant parking in the Butts Centre - not the most pleasant experience late at night!

I directed Jack the Ripper at The Kenton in Henley - the fourth oldest “purpose-built’ theatre in Britain, with its own ghost…. that was very spooky! A sell-out show, not least when arriving for the Tech rehearsal a couple of us encountered the ghost- she was friendly though - and never forgotten it…. Could well be there’s some ghosts at the prison too…..
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Oooo, really?! Cool.

Ah yes. Forgot about the Mall car park. Grim at the best of times (and there wasn’t any, lol).
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Voiceoftreason? wrote: 06 Dec 2021 13:16 Oooo, really?! Cool.
This is her
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Blandy

At the time she was alive their garden was large and part of the garden is at the rear of The Kenton, which was built in about 1805.
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piwacket wrote: 06 Dec 2021 13:05
dave m wrote: 06 Dec 2021 12:50 The Hegagon (as Pi says) was a 70's economy job and has loads of failings in it's design.
Logistically, it's a nightmare to work in and the sight lines could be better……
Agree with all that… it was an uphill battle with it at the time. And as an advisory body we were just ignored. If the Prison area is eventually going to be a Community Leisure area, hopefully the current Council will see more sense :whistle1:

That, I fear, could be the flaw in the cunning plan!
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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piwacket wrote: 06 Dec 2021 13:26
Voiceoftreason? wrote: 06 Dec 2021 13:16 Oooo, really?! Cool.
This is her
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Blandy

At the time she was alive their garden was large and part of the garden is at the rear of The Kenton, which was built in about 1805.
How interesting. Wonder what really happened - innocent application, murderous intent by her, or duped by him? Make a good play by itself.
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Voiceoftreason? wrote: 06 Dec 2021 13:34 How interesting. Wonder what really happened - innocent application, murderous intent by her, or duped by him? Make a good play by itself.
I think there are some plays. Certainly I saw one on (I think) BBC some years ago… which was quite harrowing at the end….
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Having visited many older prisons over the years like Strangeways, Walton, Wakefield etc I have found them to be places of misery, pain and suffering and (in my opinion) they should be demolished and something far more cheerfull erected in their place to erase the memories.

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Re: Future of Prison Area

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windrush wrote: 06 Dec 2021 13:40 Having visited many older prisons over the years like Strangeways, Walton, Wakefield etc I have found them to be places of misery, pain and suffering and (in my opinion) they should be demolished and something far more cheerfull erected in their place to erase the memories.

Pete.
Fair point, but then prisons aren’t for good people.....
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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while I agree that old prisons are place that were intended to be miserable, what better way to reverse that "negative energy" than turn them into a place for the Arts?

Also, being listed, the Victorian part would be a difficult "sell" to planning when demolition is suggested.
Oxford Prison made a good hotel so it's possible to repurpose while retaining character.

If I was the council, I'd slip a few listings and protections on the building to thwart developers, buy it, then reverse the restrictions.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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The Gaol is Grade II listed and the Abbey Grade I, so that's probably as good as it gets. I don't think the Council have been shy explaining the difficulties of getting planning permission to potential buyers and the MoJ.
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Voiceoftreason? wrote: 06 Dec 2021 13:49
windrush wrote: 06 Dec 2021 13:40 Having visited many older prisons over the years like Strangeways, Walton, Wakefield etc I have found them to be places of misery, pain and suffering and (in my opinion) they should be demolished and something far more cheerfull erected in their place to erase the memories.

Pete.
Fair point, but then prisons aren’t for good people.....
That's the intention but as we all know it doesn't always plan out like that! :whistle1:

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Re: Future of Prison Area

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piwacket wrote: 06 Dec 2021 12:24
ChipbuttyG wrote: 06 Dec 2021 11:13 - wouldn't it have been more prudent to improve The Hexagon? Oh no, that wouldn't get as many headlines....
TBH the Hexagon in its original concept - in which I was involved as part of the Reading Leisure Committee - was proposed as just that - a ‘professional’ theatre, with flexible space to be used by other functions. We visited other venues (Salisbury and Glasgow) and took ideas back to the then Council…but corners were cut and they wouldn’t spend what was needed… so as for improving the current building, other than retaining the shell and the footprint, they’d really need to gut it and start again. It also wasn’t helped by the Council then using part of the car park under it for they’re own use, which meant ‘punters’ had problems parking. We advised on acoustics - as seen else where - they were ignored too, as was the proposed Fly tower and etc etc.

Corners are always cut with Reading Council. Look at Rivermead. A chance to have a decent 50m pool but we got a terrible fun pool that in no way could compete with Coral Reef. This time around, another chance for a 50m pool, But we get 2 x 25m pools.
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