Regenerating prisons for business and leisure

Treadmills' new civic square, performance space and cinema (Central Northallerton Development Company CGI)

How do developers go about deciding what to do with our 19th century prisons when they close? Are they ripe for re-use or does the image of crime hang over them putting off new business 'inmates'?

North Yorkshire's HM Prison Northallerton operated from 1788 until December 2013 and was built on a former 'house of correction'. Architect and engineer, John Carr, built a quadrangle of four buildings to house men, women and children and at one time had the largest treadmill in the world. The prison service latterly decided the costs of maintaining the buildings to modern standards were just too high.

Now Leeds based contractor Castleton Constuction has completed Phase 1 of the Treadmills regeneration development. The company has handed over three retail units, one of which will be occupied by supermarket group Lidl - the retail anchor for the £17 million scheme.

Driven forward by the Central Northallerton Development Company Ltd (CNDCL), a joint venture between Hambleton District Council and leader developer Wykeland Group, the scheme is providing a new future for the old Grade ll listed prison buildings with a mixed-use destination incorporating retail, leisure and office space.

The former main cell block and the female wing will house the 7,000 sq ft Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) Northallerton, a new community of tech specialists, building on the Hull-based C4DI digital hub's success.

Jonathan Stubbs, Wykeland Development Director and a CNDCL Board member said:

'The completion of construction on phase one of Treadmills is a major milestone in the delivery of this exciting regeneration project...this is one of the many developments we are moving forward across the region to deliver new investment and jobs that are vital to the post-Covid economic recovery'.

Other prisons have been re-purposed successfully as hotels, notably HMP Oxford which became a Malmaison hotel between 2003 and 2005 - occupying a central site next to Oxford Castle and the Westgate shopping centre.

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