Plans to buy prison site are backed

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Moves to begin negotiations to buy the defunct Northallerton prison as part of an ambitious development plan for the town centre have been approved.

Members of Hambleton District Council’s cabinet yesterday gave the go ahead for officers to start negotiations to buy the building from the Ministry of Justice.

The building is part of a new masterplan for Northallerton which could see new homes built. The scheme, which also includes leisure and education uses, 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 is holding off putting it on the open market to allow time for negotiations with the district council.

“Buying the prison will be an exciting new initiative for the council – and one which will add a new dimension to our masterplan for the centre of the town,” said the deputy leader of the council, Coun Peter Wilkinson.

Council chiefs say a purchase price should be known before the end of the year. Hundreds of jobs were lost in Northallerton with the closure of the town’s prison and the Rural Payments Agency office and the council is keen to see the land re-used.