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"I'd love to turn Gloucester prison into a top hotel": Hotel chain boss

By The Citizen  |  Posted: January 16, 2013

  • Gloucester prison

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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."

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  • BishopHooper  |  January 17 2013, 5:09PM

    JasB999 I dont call leveling out the square and chucking some grass down in one corner of Kings Square 'redevelopement'... More like puting some polyfiller over the cracks... I note you didnt mention the Golden Egg or the bus station area. What gloucester SHOULD bedoing us redeveloping the City Center and working outwards, not just giving any and all available sites near the river or the docks to private developers.

  • JASB999  |  January 17 2013, 9:24AM

    @BishopHooper they have already given Kings Square a facelift and are looking at plans to redevelop the site. The Gate streets have had work completed on them - do you remember the awful "cobbled" effect pavement. A nightmare for wheelchair users - that has gone. @Alethia I can't agree with you more - I am constantly amazed at the level of negative comments about the city and the odd decisions to dump developments like the incinerator here. I also adopted Gloucester as my home some 13 years ago and am really please to see the way investment has come into the city. With the prison going there is a real opportunity to make the most of some great riverside space rather than dump prisoners there.

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  • BishopHooper  |  January 17 2013, 5:50AM

    Aletheia, well rather than this hotel idea, why aren't the redeveloping the bus station, kings square and the gate streets?.. They are the REAL face of Gloucester...

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  • Aletheia  |  January 17 2013, 1:30AM

    It's probably the best thing that could happen to Gloucester. Historically, the city has always suffered from being the poor relation to Cheltenham. I don't come from this county though I have lived here for the best part of 40 years and it is certainly strange. Can you think of a county that deliberately looks down it's nose at it's shire city? Every time there is something nor so pleasant to be built Gloucestershire always shoves it in or near the city. Prison? Build it in Gloucester. Sanitorium (the old Cony Hill Hospital) build it in Gloucester. Bail hostels? Shove 'em in Gloucester. Incinerator? Okay, not in Gloucester but pretty close. Biggest landfill site in the county? Yes, you've guessed it, Gloucester. Stroud council you'll have to allow x amount of affordable housing to be built in your area, so where do they shove it? On the boundary with Gloucester. If the county had to build a central sewage plant for the whole county you can guarantee that it would end up being built in Gloucester, not Cheltenham, not the Cotswolds and not Stroud's area. Having a prison in the city is not good for the city for those that are released with nowhere and no roots end up living in Gloucester instead of being proportionately dispersed. A hotel would be good use of the building. There isn't a high class hotel in the centre of Gloucester and bridging the gap between the docks and Longsmith Street is all important though I do think it needs to be more than just a hotel. Now all we need to do is stop knocking Gloucester and try and build it up.

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  • GoMiG  |  January 16 2013, 11:43PM

    And there was I thinking it was already a luxury hotel, as it offers better accommodation and food in there than some of our older population receive in the community. Maybe if prisons did cause discomfort and offer punishment then it would be a real deterrent, and we could save tax pounds that way....

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  • andypandy789  |  January 16 2013, 10:32PM

    I'd like to keep it as a prison and make sure all the scum that should be in there are kept in there.

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  • Beelzebub666  |  January 16 2013, 10:00PM

    This is just typical of the sad acts that run our country. They lie and cheat and falsify, that is what they are best at. The many recent closures of major names, Comet 4000 staff, HMV 4500, Jessops 1400, Honda shedding 800, Blockbuster announce another 4000 job losses. These figures are quickly put out there, but what about the Public Sector prisons. 7 prisons closed, 2 more loosing prison places, a further 5 prisons in 12 months, yet no mention of the thousands of job losses that will incur. Why? Because the coalition don't want to be seen as the ones being responsible for cutting jobs, and basically putting the public at risk. Closing prisons, but new ones mentioned yet to be built? Where are these criminals going to go? And our local MP is only concerned about a potential luxury hotel. What a p***k. Get in the real world you pathetic waste of skin.......

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  • maurice1941  |  January 16 2013, 6:19PM

    What about mr Graham people losing jobs in Glos prison /hmv/ jessops /blockbusters/where do they go ,you is going to stay in Gloucester not the prison hotel ,by a long way mr Graham start thinking about the people of Glos for a change

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  • angel67  |  January 16 2013, 4:54PM

    Whilst people debate on what it should turn in to kindley remember the staff who will have no jobs come the end of March , this is a very stressfull time for them right now.........

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  • annalou27  |  January 16 2013, 4:15PM

    Personally, I would rather it remain a prison. Where are the inmates going to reside whilst they wait for their state of the art prisons to be built??? Another fantastic idea by DC and his cronies. Criminals are better off than the rest of society who have been law abiding and worked their backsides off. If it really has to stop being a prison then I agree with Glawsterman, there is a lot of history behind those walls which I am sure would be of interest to some.