Hambleton District Council could become the new owners of Northallerton Prison under ambitious development plans for the town centre.
Members of the authority’s cabinet are next month being asked to approve negotiations to buy the defunct prison from the Ministry of Justice.
The building is part of a major new “masterplan” for the market town – new homes, leisure and education provision and shops are included in a scheme which also takes in the empty Rural Payment Agency offices and Crosby Road car park.
The Ministry of Justice is looking to dispose of the prison by March next year – but has agreed to hold off putting it on the open market to allow time for negotiations with the district council.
Deputy leader of the council, Councillor Peter R Wilkinson, said:
“We are looking to acquire the prison as part of our Economic Development Strategy for the district – a strategy we have allocated £5million to.
“The building is part of the Masterplan for Central Northallerton – the framework for which has already been approved.
“We want to make sure that redevelopment of the entire site takes place in a co-ordinated way and provides the maximum economic and community benefit for the town.
“Acquiring the prison will be an exciting development for the authority – if Cabinet give approval for negotiations with the Ministry of Justice we would expect a final value by the end of the year.”
The masterplan seeks to make the most of the vacant buildings and has been designed to complement the High Street and support its viability and vitality.
The sites proximity to the High Street means it could provide retailing and housing for residents – and there are proposals for a mix of leisure, education and retail provision.
A family friendly pub, specialist retails and community uses are also possible developments.