Future of Prison Area

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pwpriory
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Future of Prison Area

Post by pwpriory »

The enablers are gathering !

http://www.tvproperty.co.uk/news/help-m ... -come-true

From Thames Tap Property Journal

'Help make theatre dream come true'

Property professionals have been urged to back the ambitious plan for Reading’s new theatre to be built at the prison.

More than 60 industry experts gathered for this month’s Clancy-sponsored First Tuesday Club meeting on February 6, to hear direct from four leading figures who could help the Abbey Ruins area become a cultural quarter few towns or cities could match.

Speaking in a panel debate at the meeting, Reading UK executive director Nigel Horton-Baker told guests: “I think if we were Manchester, Birmingham or Leeds, the mayor would be up there in London, the whole city would be there, the key leaders of industry and business would be there and we would be rallying round.

“We would be making such a hell of a noise the Government couldn’t turn its back on it. It would have to sit up and listen.

“We’ve got big companies who are patrons of the arts in London, why not in Reading? We really need to galvanise.

“You guys, go back, talk in your offices because you can all benefit from it as people living, working and enjoying your leisure time in Reading and we need to make one big hullabaloo about all this and get round this team as part of the whole cultural development of the city.”

Reading may get an opportunity to bid for city status in 2022 which would be the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

Mr Nigel Horton-Baker pointed to a number of factors coming together for the town including a possible second Year of Culture in 2021, the Reading 2050 Vision and the new theatre proposal. Those, he said, could be packaged in a way to help a future bid.

Both Arts Council England and English Heritage are supporting TAR's plans but first the group members need to persuade the Ministry of Justice to let them in.


Rob Lynch, head of property at law firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys, who acts for TAR, suggested the debate should be about where best the theatre could be sited.

If the prison site was possible, then a commercial element may be needed but if the requirement for 300 homes blocked progress then the theatre would need another site.

He said Reading Prison did not lend itself to becoming a hotel like the Malmaison at Oxford but other options were being considered.

And he added, enigmatically: “There are one or two things we are looking at. I can’t say what they are but they might involve beds.”
C.A.Versham
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by C.A.Versham »

'Might involve beds' eh

Hostel for the homeless
Detention centre
Health facility
Garden centre with bedding plants
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Bob deBilda

Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by Bob deBilda »

For bedding in Reading
The place to be heading
is Reading Prison.

Regards
Bob
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OneGorman
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by OneGorman »

Art bores me. Stick a new theatre on the site and start attracting some decent bands and singers! That’s much better use for the land IMO, although what would they do for parking?

That or flats. We’re lacking in flats...
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Stewart
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by Stewart »

Apparently we need a new theatre (although The Hexagon is fine by me). So, rather than try to build a new one on one of our few parks (which they did a few years ago), I am all for using the prison land for a new theatre. Obviously they will have to knock down a lot of the the prison, which, lets face it in its current sate is just an ugly eyesore. Only the original Victorian building is listed I would think. Knock down that horrible great wall and open the place up...
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piwacket
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Re: Future of Prison Area

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Stewart wrote: 13 Feb 2018 08:07 Apparently we need a new theatre (although The Hexagon is fine by me). So, rather than try to build a new one on one of our few parks (which they did a few years ago), I am all for using the prison land for a new theatre.
Stewart, you may find the Hexagon fine but don’t think many do, either as audience or performer ... it’s fairly awful ... it was pretty poor when it was built 40 years ago. Trying to be, on the cheap, all things to all people, it achieved few of the concepts ....
Reading surely deserves a decent Entertainment Venue with it’s own parking facility!
RBC Councillors in the 70s had all apparently had lobotomies to remove any artistic thoughts or ideas - are we to conclude the current team are the same?
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MickEdge
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Post by MickEdge »

The prison site has a lot going for it, as it’s within an easy walk of the town centre, buses and the station. That’s key to it being commercially viable, even though it'll need subsidies and or sponsorship. Parking is close enough, but could be better. As a heritage site, it stands a better chance than on the Hexagon site, which is a far too valuable commercially. Personally, I always liked the Hexagon.

Even if much of the prison has to be kept, it should be possible to fit in a venue the size of the Hexagon and maybe ones of other sizes. Whether there are enough big companies in Reading, who see an advantage in being associated with the venture, I don’t know. Yes, there are some global leaders here, but the purse strings are mostly held far away, and there is precious little public money available.

The problem with the prison is it’s just too big and an odd shape. How do you keep the essence of the place without destroying that brutal Victorian bigness? Can you really do much with all those cells and thick walls, if the budget is tight. I really hope it comes off, but I’m just afraid in the current economic and political climate it’s going to take quit a lot of drive and good luck. We probably need one or two locals like John Madjeski, who have an affinity with the town and the arts.
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Voiceoftreason?
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by Voiceoftreason? »

When (if) the mad stand area is redeveloped, there will be a convention centre there, so an auditorium of sorts will exist. As for Sir John, he would make a good figure Head but not sponsor in terms of cash investment. I’ve seen another prison turned into a restaurant/hotel, and that idea has some legs to it such that you can dine and spend the night in a cell. Could be fun.

I guess the first decision to be made is do they have it down or do they convert?

I’d hate to see it go to yet more housing and would welcome some ki)d of entertainment/public spaces/performance arena at that end of town.
Disclaimer: it wasn't me as wot said it, it was my iPad spellchecker!
bobby1413

Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by bobby1413 »

Ministry of Justice are blocking the development group from going on site to investigate and plan any possible projects. Apparently they have no interest in the theatre idea, and are saying this is designated already for housing.

Furious about this if it's accurate and if this is the current attitude.

https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/minis ... ng-prison/
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MickEdge
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Post by MickEdge »

Read it too and that’s always what I was afraid of. I just hope no-one can come up with a viable and economic way of converting the prison buildings into homes, but that still leaves a lot of land that could be developed for housing. It’s a heritage site and it’s redevelopment must support and reflect that. We need housing, but we need pleasant and useful public spaces around them. However, as we eventually move out of MayWorld into Corbutopia or MoggLand I’m very pessimistic.
zag

Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by zag »

The government have been very clear that "brownfield" sites that they own will be sold off and used for housing.

I guess they are just implementing this policy.
Melchett

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Post by Melchett »

Would be great as a music venue. Increase footfall to the left of the station might spark life back into the CornStores and Rising Sun.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by dave m »

The council do own a large piece of already cleared land, next to the butts centre
The prison site will be hard to develop with the main structure being listed, and ancient ruins next door and under the site

A bit of logic applied, and both houses and a theatre could be built
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Post by ash »

If the MoD sell the site, do they have any input at all into its future use? It’s like someone selling their house to someone else, and then telling the new owners that they have to decorate the place in a certain way!

Surely the group who would like to turn the prison into a theatre would just have to buy the site at market value, as much as other developers would be prepared to pay. Which is what I expected anyway?
bobby1413

Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by bobby1413 »

Three options exist i think ... in order of most likely to least:

1) the council contest the MoJ, the community and theatre people also petition against their plans. This starts of a 10+ years of just nothing happening. New governments, new council leaders and the same old things going round in circles (like the 3rd bridge)

2) MoJ get their way without much issue and knock it down and start building.

3) MoJ see sense after some of the other arts councils and government leaders point out the value of the site to Reading. They apologise and we all end up happy and a new theatre and development starts being built.





3)
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by peterson »

dave m wrote: 20 Feb 2018 19:32 The council do own a large piece of already cleared land, next to the butts centre
The prison site will be hard to develop with the main structure being listed, and ancient ruins next door and under the site

A bit of logic applied, and both houses and a theatre could be built
The prison & Abbey area, or Abbey Quarter as it's being termed, is a big opportunity. With the Oscar Wilde link, the history of the Abbey - it's an opportunity to create something distinctive as a regional centre for theatre and the arts. (The theatre would be on the site of the prefab building and exercise yard rather than the historic building). The first rule of marketing is to be remarkable. This site provides that possibility to a far greater extent than the old civic site. I'm optimistic Melvin Benn will pull a rabbit out of the hat on this one.
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piwacket
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Post by piwacket »

Peterson - I’d dearly love to share your optimism, and agree with your ideals. - but as said above - RBC has for decades been peopled by those devoid of any artistic thought or vision. I can only assume it’s a requirement on their CVs :shrug1:
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MickEdge
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Post by MickEdge »

What I want to know is how and who found Southampton around £30m, for new theatres, cinema and art gallery, which was in the news recently. All part of some multi-billion regeneration scheme. Perhaps it's because rather like our football team we aren’t Premier League and not a city (see elsewhere on the Forum)? But we managed to get the new station!
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by dave m »

dave m wrote: 20 Feb 2018 19:32 The council do own a large piece of already cleared land, next to the butts centre
The prison site will be hard to develop with the main structure being listed, and ancient ruins next door and under the site

A bit of logic applied, and both houses and a theatre could be built
My point was that a sensible arrangement could be that the civic and prison sites could be swapped.
Build houses next to the hexagon, allowing more after the hex is redundant, build a new theatre and arts base around the prison site.
bobby1413

Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by bobby1413 »

peterson wrote: 20 Feb 2018 22:53
dave m wrote: 20 Feb 2018 19:32 The council do own a large piece of already cleared land, next to the butts centre
The prison site will be hard to develop with the main structure being listed, and ancient ruins next door and under the site

A bit of logic applied, and both houses and a theatre could be built
The prison & Abbey area, or Abbey Quarter as it's being termed, is a big opportunity. With the Oscar Wilde link, the history of the Abbey - it's an opportunity to create something distinctive as a regional centre for theatre and the arts. (The theatre would be on the site of the prefab building and exercise yard rather than the historic building). The first rule of marketing is to be remarkable. This site provides that possibility to a far greater extent than the old civic site. I'm optimistic Melvin Benn will pull a rabbit out of the hat on this one.
I've a lot of respect and hope with him being involved. From what I've read and understand (limited) there is a decent consortium which has now been established.

I'd imagine Melvin has a lot of links, contacts and business sense. I'm also hopeful that something positive will come out of it
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Urban myth
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by Urban myth »

Interesting to see Barton Willmores vision for the site. Can't see it happening but if Carlsberg did transformations and the perception of Reading then this would be along those lines.
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Post by johnH »

Reading Gaol Prison Theatre.jpg
"I'm not a prison, darling, I'm a theatre"
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MickEdge
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Post by MickEdge »

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” No prizes for who said that.
bobby1413

Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by bobby1413 »

MickEdge wrote: 18 Mar 2018 22:56 “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” No prizes for who said that.
Tony Page?
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chris_j_wood
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by chris_j_wood »

bobby1413 wrote: 18 Mar 2018 23:03
MickEdge wrote: 18 Mar 2018 22:56 “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” No prizes for who said that.
Tony Page?
Possibly. But if he did, he was quoting Oscar Wilde.
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MickEdge
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Post by MickEdge »

I am sure Mr Page has commented De Profundis, but unfortunately I can’t find that rich seam of his quotes and his Twitter feed is mostly retweets. So I am afraid you’ll have to put up with Oscar’s. Sad that what was for him the worst of times, was for Reading a nice little earner. A large peg onto which we can hang our little cultural coat.
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Post by Melchett »

I for one would love it to be a theatre/music venue. I'm sure Morrissey would love to play there seeing as he's a huge Oscar Wilde fan.
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BOY RACER
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Post by BOY RACER »

Oscar Wilde/Tony Page ———- Tony Page/Oscar Wilde ——- Yes I can see the connection :whistle1:
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OneGorman
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by OneGorman »

You lot are slipping!!

These plans sound amazing for the Town - http://bit.ly/2GIjUc1

1500 capacity theatre, and smaller 500 capacity venue, as well as Oscar Wilde museum.

Superb! 👍🏼

However... Parking will be interesting, especially when considering the hundreds of flats going up on the old Toys R Us and Homebase site, as well as around the corner on the old BMW site with its 23 story sky scraper and smaller building behind it... traffic traffic traffic.
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Post by ReadingT »

Traffic wouldn’t be an issue as it’s pretty close to the station so it won’t offer much parking.

Can’t see it happening though.
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Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by peterson »

Parking is an interesting one. A multi storey on Forbury Retail Park might be a sensible long term move. In the shorter term maybe encourage walking from the station multi storey, perhaps with a better evening rate. And public transport obviously.

As for the proposed dazzling array of Arts uses, I've gone through their vision statement in my latest blog: http://readingonthames.com/2018/05/22/gaol-hype/
Two theatres would be amazing. All sounding very positive.
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johnH
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Post by johnH »

Exactly what’s needed in Reading and a perfic location to boot. Let the building commence .... this decade :)
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Post by Pooneil »

It's a glorious idea. I shall plan to be disappointed.
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mikejee
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Post by mikejee »

Seems a marvellous idea, but with the government wanting to make money from the site, or more likely give those who donate to the conservative party the chance to make a killing, I will not hold my breath
zag

Re: Future of Prison Area

Post by zag »

Yet again, people requesting parking for a site that is about 4mins walk from the central train and bus routes. Our crazy car culture continues.
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