Fast track prison emptying could speed up Gloucester development
AS HMP Gloucester slams its doors for the final time, community leaders hope the news of its rapid emptying will fast-track its redevelopment.
The last of the 350 prisoners and staff were relocated a month ahead of schedule yesterday after 222 years of service.
But some have warned against red tape and bureaucracy standing in the way of regenerating the site in a way fit for the 21st Century.
Barry Leach, chairman of Gloucester City Centre Community Partnership, said the emptying could be a positive step towards regeneration.
Sunday and Monday evenings £12.00 per head for an all inclusive meal with Indian and Thai cuisine (normal price £14.50).
Bring this voucher to the restaurant complete with your name and email address on it.
Terms: Expires 31st July
Contact: 01452 223782
Valid until: Wednesday, July 31 2013
But he has warned about delays that could see the site left to rot. "Our greatest fear is that if nothing is acted on now, it could be left empty for several years," he said.
"On the positive side, the prison is now empty and is available for someone to take it on for development.
"If it is taken on quickly, it could act as a catalyst for that whole area.
"But there is a danger it could become a white elephant.
"There are a lot of ideas floating about how the old part of the prison can be used and that is positive, but action is needed.
"This should be seen as an opportunity to push on with the development of the whole Barbican site, including the Blackfriars area."
It is now hoped a developer will step in to take on the ambitious project and transform the prison.
Ideas mooted include a luxury hotel and restaurant, similar to the Malmaison-run former prison in Oxford.
City council leader Paul James said a lot of work is being done behind the scenes to speed up the process.
"There is clearly going to be a period of time when the recommissioning process takes place," he said.
"The Government will have to discuss how the prison's transfer is going to be handled and this will take time.
"We will be lobbying central Government to release the prison as soon as possible so potential developers can make a decision on the site."
Five other small prisons have also been shut to pave the way for a new super prison which could hold up to 2,000 inmates.