A BID to use part of the derelict prison as a theatre will receive the council's full backing.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is yet to sell the Grade II listed prison, despite outlining its intentions to do so.

Theatre and Arts Reading (TAR) are preparing setting up a trust in order to make a bid for the historic site where Oscar Wilde was once incarcerated.

And Reading Borough Council (RBC) has backed TAR's vision for the prison, which was abruptly shut down by the Government more than four years ago.

Cllr Tony Page, deputy leader of the council, said: "TAR is investigating the potential of a trust arrangement to take forward a bid for the site.

"The reason the trust would be a good vehicle would be to ensure the site fulfils a number of different purposes and properly integrated into the wider Abbey Quarter.

"We won't have the resources to put money into a trust bid but we have the expertise and the staffing resources to take that forward."

The deputy leader of the council insisted a theatre at Reading Prison should not impact on the future of The Hexagon, the town's current theatre.

He also suggested there could be potential to use some of the land for housing.

Cllr Page added: "We would be very keen to see the prison opened up in a variety of different ways.

"People are much more aware of the potential to use the prison for community purposes.

"There is no reason why a housing developer could not come on board with a view to developing some element of housing on the site.

"One thing the council is committed to is to seeing a range of things on the site."

The prison will be discussed at the council's next policy committee meeting on July 16.

Councillors have been advised to welcome TAR's proposals.