FOR Sale – but who will buy Gloucester Prison?
The 222-year-old building is steeped in history and is now officially on the market.
Boasting Grade II listed buildings, a back story of one of the first purpose-built jails in the country, hundreds of rooms including a chapel and all on a prime site between the city centre and the Docks, it looks set to raise a seven figure sum for the Ministry of Justice.
As a 3.5-acre brownfield site it could be worth more than £3million but its unique character could drive the price down – 122 bodies lie beneath it and its uses could be constrained by its history.
The Debtors’ Prison became a cell block on the west side and is Grade II listed, meaning the interior is protected too.
The oldest part, which retains features from the 1791 prison, is also listed.
The firm behind the hotel conversion of Oxford Jail, Malmaison, Oxford, showed interest when the Barrack Square site closed but it is believed interest is waning on that front.
“I doubt anyone could put a figure on it until they know more about it and have an idea of what they want to do with it,” said Gloucester City Council leader Councillor Paul James.
“I would like to see a mixed use there – there is no reason why you cannot get residential, a heritage use and a hotel there. Residential would be very good for the city centre and, as a council, we are keen to see the best use made of it.”
He said the city council would listen to potential buyers who wanted to make use of the neighbouring Blackfriars site too.
City architect Stephen Limbrick of Roberts Limbrick said it represents a unique challenge and opportunity.
“It’s pretty impossible to say what it’s worth but it is a fantastic opportunity to get a really prime bit of land and property near the city centre and the Docks,” he said.
“It has options but it will depend on whether there is someone out there who can make it happen. We would love the chance to be involved in any future project there.”
Robert Smith, of property consultancy Bruton Knowles, said its value will depend to some extent on its future use.
“The value will be derived from what someone can do with it,” he said. “It is in a very good position but it is a constrained site.”
A Prison Service spokesman confirmed Gloucester Prison ‘is now for sale’, alongside another which has closed – Shepton Mallet in Somerset – but it does not have a price tag.
“We will consider appropriate offers and will always seek best value for taxpayers,” he said.