Future of Prison Area

ChipbuttyG
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by ChipbuttyG »

Fed-up wrote: 06 Dec 2021 13:33
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!
+1.
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MickEdge
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Will they be able to fit a concert hall the size of the Hexagon in the Gaol land? From a visitor perspective I always enjoyed going there. Mostly concerts, a few plays and the panto. It was designed as multipurpose venue, so not surprising it might fall short for many. What I’d like to know is what the gaol redevelopment will provide and will it what Reading needs or wants? Depends who you ask.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Ideally you want a 400-500 seat theatre space with maybe a studio theatre space that could be also a display/event area.
The original idea for the Hexagon was to later build a studio theatre where Yellow Pages was.

I used to often go to Windsor Arts Centre where the old magistrates courts hold a couple of hundred as a theatre space.
What I believe is a gym or workshop could be demolished and a sympathetic shell be built around a steel frame.

With an incredibly inaccurate method, I used Google earth to look down on the Hexagon.I cut a chunk of card to about the size of the Hex and then carefully slid eastwards to the Prison without zooming in/out. There is plenty of space for a modified footprint of the Hexagon to replace the modern gym/workshops. There are a few "sticky out bits" on the Hexagon site but they are the scene dock, band rooms, kitchens etc.

Although the Hexagon was developed on the assumption of the Town Hall being demolished. Would it need to have a 1000 seat concert Hall?
The TH stage is tiny for full orchestras though.

Rivermead can do rock gigs.

But given a squeeze, you could get everything at the Hexagon on the south east corner of the prison.

You don't need to provide car parking apart from a few staff/vip and some disabled spaces.
Easier to do a deal with the retail units opposite and reroute a few buses.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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dave m wrote: 07 Dec 2021 17:06 Ideally you want a 400-500 seat theatre space with maybe a studio theatre space that could be also a display/event area.
The original idea for the Hexagon was to later build a studio theatre where Yellow Pages was.
The ‘original’ original idea right at the beginning was with the sort of fan-shaped auditorium - was that 2 studio spaces could be created by putting moveable floor-to-ceiling ‘walls’ (plaster-board or what-ever) along to separate the two ‘wings’ so there would be 3 playing areas. The 2 studios would have a temporary stage whenever needed, or they could be used for small exhibitions etc, whilst something was happening in the central section.
No it didn’t happen, so now there’s two ‘wings with poor sight-lines, and even worse acoustics. :)
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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It would be nice to have a decent gig venue for top acts in Reading. It's a ball ache trying to get the last train back from London at times. Sometimes you want to stay out after and have another drink or two but the getting home anxiety kicks in.
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The ‘original’ original idea right at the beginning was with the sort of fan-shaped auditorium - was that 2 studio spaces could be created by putting moveable floor-to-ceiling ‘walls’ (plaster-board or what-ever) along to separate the two ‘wings’ so there would be 3 playing areas. The 2 studios would have a temporary stage whenever needed, or they could be used for small exhibitions etc, whilst something was happening in the central section.
No it didn’t happen, so now there’s two ‘wings with poor sight-lines, and even worse acoustics. :)
[/quote]

Sound isolation is the issue.
Most theatres use storage spaces as a barrier between spaces as a decent movable wall involves massive engineering to get decent soundproofing.
Warwick Arts Centre uses steel framed doors not out of place in Fort Knox that have retractable wheels and jack themselves up before sliding to the side.
Another advantage of tirade between auditoria is that one big space can serve two spaces.
The Prosc at the Hexagon is six huge steel and acoustic panels that take ages to install and wouldn't prevent a conversation between sides.

I don't know how far down you could get away with digging near the river, or on a site of that age, but many modern theatres stash a load of stuff under the auditorium and use big lifts and pneumatics to shift seats.

Looks like Banksy's offer is pointless though as the MOJ say they won't consider new offers.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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dave m wrote: 08 Dec 2021 11:03 Sound isolation is the issue.
Most theatres use storage spaces as a barrier between spaces as a decent movable wall involves massive engineering to get decent soundproofing……

Looks like Banksy's offer is pointless though as the MOJ say they won't consider new offers.
Many of us thought the same about the ‘sound’ problem, so it was an idea that soon got dismissed - I can’t remember the ‘ins-and-outs’ - probably it was explained to the Council and it was all going to cost too much…. But it was right at the beginning of the planning discussions - and then just disappeared off the agenda.
Underground storage would have been good too, don’t recollect if that was ever discussed, but certainly a Fly-tower was, particularly by one or two of us who had used theatre with them.

Has the MoJ received a firm offer then ?
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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I saw a story in the press that Banksy had offered the original stencil of his ‘escaping prisoner’ artwork to Reading Council on the condition that it was sold and the money used to make an arts and entertainment area at the old prison site for the town.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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ChipbuttyG wrote: 08 Dec 2021 09:28It's a ball ache trying to get the last train back from London at times.
One of the reasons I chose to relocate to Reading in 2019 was because it has a good 24-hour rail service from Paddington (except Saturday nights). On Sunday to Friday evenings there are departures at 23:18, 23:32, 23:34, 23:50, 00:30, 00:34, 01:34 and 03:34. The choice is more limited on Saturdays with departures at 23:28, 23:30 and 23:45 (although there are trains from Waterloo at 23:50 and 00:20). All of the Paddington services take less than an hour, with the 23:32 (23:30 Sat) taking less than half an hour.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Souwester wrote: 08 Dec 2021 12:14
ChipbuttyG wrote: 08 Dec 2021 09:28It's a ball ache trying to get the last train back from London at times.
One of the reasons I chose to relocate to Reading in 2019 was because it has a good 24-hour rail service from Paddington (except Saturday nights). On Sunday to Friday evenings there are departures at 23:18, 23:32, 23:34, 23:50, 00:30, 00:34, 01:34 and 03:34. The choice is more limited on Saturdays with departures at 23:28, 23:30 and 23:45 (although there are trains from Waterloo at 23:50 and 00:20). All of the Paddington services take less than an hour, with the 23:32 (23:30 Sat) taking less than half an hour.
There might be trains, however my experience has been that there are no seats, or they change the platform at the last minute! From now own, it's matinee performances, thanks.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Souwester wrote: 08 Dec 2021 12:14
ChipbuttyG wrote: 08 Dec 2021 09:28It's a ball ache trying to get the last train back from London at times.
One of the reasons I chose to relocate to Reading in 2019 was because it has a good 24-hour rail service from Paddington (except Saturday nights). On Sunday to Friday evenings there are departures at 23:18, 23:32, 23:34, 23:50, 00:30, 00:34, 01:34 and 03:34. The choice is more limited on Saturdays with departures at 23:28, 23:30 and 23:45 (although there are trains from Waterloo at 23:50 and 00:20). All of the Paddington services take less than an hour, with the 23:32 (23:30 Sat) taking less than half an hour.
Problem is, most of the gigs I go to have been on Saturday evenings.
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Ollycat wrote: 08 Dec 2021 12:46There might be trains, however my experience has been that there are no seats, or they change the platform at the last minute! From now own, it's matinee performances, thanks.
I admit the 23:32, being the last of the 'fast' trains can be very busy, as is the last train on Saturdays, but my experience of the others is that they're not overly busy. I took the 23:18 last week, and it seemed to be about 20% full. Platforms are confirmed maybe 10 minutes or so before departure and if you're there when it flashes up there's certainly no problem in getting a seat.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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lizwing wrote: 08 Dec 2021 12:01 I saw a story in the press that Banksy had offered the original stencil of his ‘escaping prisoner’ artwork to Reading Council on the condition that it was sold and the money used to make an arts and entertainment area at the old prison site for the town.
Welcome back Liz.

A few things.

Banksy's art on the prison wall is valued at £15m, our local press have reported.
Reading Council's put in a paltry bid of £2.6m.
Banksy has pledged £10m to help save the prison.

Surely the MoJ, with Banksy's art on their property will be demanding more money for the site now....?
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But it won’t be it’s the stencil which the council would have to sell.
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Also, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: “The deadline for bids has passed and we are currently considering the ones we received.”

It may well be too late now any way...
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Welcome back Liz.

If he sells the stencil then I have visions of this art appearing everywhere. How about one at Broadmoor? ;)
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lizwing wrote: 08 Dec 2021 12:01 I saw a story in the press….
Welcome back Liz! :clap2:
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Fed-up wrote: 08 Dec 2021 15:03 Welcome back Liz.

If he sells the stencil then I have visions of this art appearing everywhere. How about one at Broadmoor? ;)
I think the idea is it can’t be used as copyright, but can be had as a piece of art in its own respect

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ChipbuttyG wrote: 08 Dec 2021 14:30 Banksy's art on the prison wall is valued at £15m, our local press have reported.
Reading Council's put in a paltry bid of £2.6m.
Banksy has pledged £10m to help save the prison.

Surely the MoJ, with Banksy's art on their property will be demanding more money for the site now....?
Good point :-(
Sad that when street art is "recognised" it then becomes part of the whole art market circus, although good can be made of this, and has been..
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So what happens if this latest bid fails? Do RBC look at alternative sites for a new arts venue or do up the Hexagon/knock it down and start again?
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Nothing will happen for ages I suspect. The prison is a great idea, and prompted the move to discuss a new centre.

Ideally you need somewhere relatively close to the centre, to take advantage of transport links, plus allow the nighttime economy to benefit.
Not many sites in a town centre become available and not at council's price range.

I don't know the official split between the police station/magistrates/civic centre and Hexagon area? Presumably it's about 50/50 between justice and council? I bang on about it a lot but I still feel a deal that involves the Hexagon site being swapped for the Prison would work. It would allow the theatre to continue to run while building work did a conversion and the current Hex site could go up at least as high as the yellow pages buildings. Footprint of the Hexagon site may be small but the square footage overall would blow the prison's available development as residential clean out of the water.
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I’m not sure that swapping the Hexagon and gaol would be allowed, although I understand your logic, Dave. Even if the Hexagon land is a Council asset to sell, would they be able to take enough out of the sale value to develop the gaol?
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Jude wrote: 09 Dec 2021 14:26Good point :-(
Sad that when street art is "recognised" it then becomes part of the whole art market circus, although good can be made of this, and has been..
Agree. Banksy tries to combat this by not authenticating street pieces (especially ones that are 'stolen'), so this reduces their re-sale value substantially. I think his public backing and the rock solid provenance contribute to making the prison escapee stencil worth so much.
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dave m wrote: 10 Dec 2021 12:29 I still feel a deal that involves the Hexagon site being swapped for the Prison would work. It would allow the theatre to continue to run while building work did a conversion and the current Hex site
Evidence would suggest this wouldn't happened. See Arthur Hill/Palmer Park debacle. By the time PP pool is ready, AH will have been closed about 7 years. Shambles.

They'll probably close the Hexagon, and not have an arts venue for a good few years...
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MickEdge wrote: 10 Dec 2021 13:40 I’m not sure that swapping the Hexagon and gaol would be allowed, although I understand your logic, Dave. Even if the Hexagon land is a Council asset to sell, would they be able to take enough out of the sale value to develop the gaol?
It answers the financial demand that the MOJ have.
But would require a building budget of 20-30 million at a guess, overall.

The Minghella Studios at the University cost £12 million a decade ago and is pretty small in comparison to a public theatre.
The Hexagon cost £4.5 million in about 77.
Building anything on a historic site adds costs v a car park

My “ideal” scenario, although fantasy, is some kind of delayed purchase / sale that swaps ownership of the sites but allows say 5 years before the hexagon site is vacated. The MOJ would probably get more money from the site, but want the money now, as this current government won’t be worried about money in five years
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Is the panto struggling at the Hexagon? I've seen several councillors trying to push sales of tickets.

Mind you, for a family of 4 it's £95.00.
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That’s the average price of a panto ticket.
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dave m wrote: 12 Dec 2021 17:27 That’s the average price of a panto ticket.
Oh no it isn't!
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I suspect a reluctance to go to the theatre surrounded by children. The Theatre Royal Windsor may be having similar problems given the frequent offers I receive from them.

I would still welcome a plan showing how the revenue costs of running an arts centre would be met. Perhaps it has been published somewhere and I have missed it. Does anyone know when the debt payments for building the Hexagon were finally paid off?
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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KeithW wrote: 12 Dec 2021 17:46
dave m wrote: 12 Dec 2021 17:27 That’s the average price of a panto ticket.
Oh no it isn't!
Darn it! I was going to put that.

But seriously - £95.00 is a lot of money for many people even if it's about the average for a panto ticket.

I noticed concessions were only £2.50 less than full priced tickets.

Looking at tomorrow's show at 14:00 - there are still a lot of unsold tickets.
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dave m wrote: 12 Dec 2021 17:27 That’s the average price of a panto ticket.
The Junior Voice and his lady, are going to a walking nativity (which my or may not have a recently hatched member of this alien clan in a starring role ....). Tickets are £25 each. No concessions. Outdoor performance. No frills (refreshments/drinks etc), amateur cast. For a special Christmas treat, I should imagine that £95 for a family outing to a good pantomime a nice Theatre, is worth the memories it will make. Like everything else in life, you make choices. How you spend your money is no ones business but your own.
Disclaimer: it wasn't me as wot said it, it was my iPad spellchecker!
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Voiceoftreason? wrote: 13 Dec 2021 10:53 The Junior Voice and his lady, are going to a walking nativity (which my or may not have a recently hatched member of this alien clan in a starring role ....). Tickets are £25 each. No concessions. Outdoor performance. No frills (refreshments/drinks etc), amateur cast. For a special Christmas treat, I should imagine that £95 for a family outing to a good pantomime a nice Theatre, is worth the memories it will make. Like everything else in life, you make choices. How you spend your money is no ones business but your own.
….Visions of the classic Vicar of Dibley episode :))

As for Panto - maybe if someone paid me £95 to go to a Panto, then I may go……
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It’s some fairy story religious mumbo jumbo Pi. I’d not go to the end of my garden, free, let alone schlep over to Guildford for £25 a head to stand outside. At least Panto is funny in a camp sort of way. £95 was for a family ticket I believe, not each.
Disclaimer: it wasn't me as wot said it, it was my iPad spellchecker!
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Voiceoftreason? wrote: 13 Dec 2021 12:24 It’s some fairy story religious mumbo jumbo Pi. I’d not go to the end of my garden, free, let alone schlep over to Guildford for £25 a head to stand outside. At least Panto is funny in a camp sort of way. £95 was for a family ticket I believe, not each.
ys I know it's for a family - but I was just setting my price :))
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piwacket wrote: 13 Dec 2021 12:49
Voiceoftreason? wrote: 13 Dec 2021 12:24 It’s some fairy story religious mumbo jumbo Pi. I’d not go to the end of my garden, free, let alone schlep over to Guildford for £25 a head to stand outside. At least Panto is funny in a camp sort of way. £95 was for a family ticket I believe, not each.
ys I know it's for a family - but I was just setting my price :))
:roflol3:

Oh duh. Clearly I’m having a senior moment
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