"I'd love to turn Gloucester prison into a top hotel": Hotel chain boss
HOPES are high for an upmarket hotel to transform Gloucester prison.
The boss of the firm which turned Oxford jail in to a luxury boutique hotel has told The Citizen he would be interested in transforming the soon-to-close jail into something equally plush.
"I love being locked in Oxford Mal and can't wait for a stretch in Gloucester Prison," said Gary Davis, chief operating officer of Malmaison, which runs a £300-plus a night hotel from part of the former Oxford castle and jail.
Last week, the Ministry of Justice said the 222-year-old prison will close by the end of March because it's too expensive to run.
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That sparked debate across the city about what will happen to the key city centre site.
City leaders favour a hotel and Scott Winnard of Bruton Knowles estate agents, who marketed a smaller prison of the same era in Northleach, said: "Following the continued success of the regeneration of Gloucester, this could be the lost piece of the jigsaw Gloucester needs, offering a high-profile position adjacent to Blackfriars cultural and creative quarter, an area which has seen major investment in recent years.
"In terms of the site and buildings, the Georgian jail provides real scope for perhaps something like a boutique hotel and quality restaurant.
" I am thinking of something similar to Malmaison.
"The remainder of the site could possibly be used for new housing, which is still much needed in Gloucester."
Suzanne Hall-Gibbins, chairman of Gloucester Chamber of Trade, agreed that it's a prime site next to the docks.
"It's always been a regret that Gloucester doesn't have the high end offerings that Cheltenham has," she said.
"It's an interesting use in Oxford and it's fantastic. I think if we could get something like that it would be great for Gloucester."
Gloucester MP Richard Graham said: "Malmaison has completely turned around the old Oxford jail and I'm delighted they're potentially interested in HMP Gloucester.
"Meanwhile, my first priority is to make sure the staff have all the information they need from the Ministry of Justice to make the best decisions about their future, and to see what problems the Governor faces closing the prison down so fast.
"I won't focus on the regeneration opportunity until those issues are clearer."