READING Civic Society has revealed they support the campaign to save Reading Gaol and believe it should be used primarily as an arts hub. 
The grade-II listed building is due to go on the market this year where the Ministry of Justice hope to sell it to the highest bidder.
READ ALSO: Reading Gaol will be sold later this year.
Richard Bennett, chair of Reading Civic Society which aims to preserve Reading's past and shape its future, believes a mixed use of the site is the best way forward as he understands the challenges in funding art projects. 
He explained they want the prison to have “a vibrant range of uses" but give primacy to the arts. 
He expressed their support for Reading Borough Council and Reading East MP Matt Rodda’s proposal to turn the prison into an arts hub rather than housing developments. 
He said: “What we do not need for this site is a purely residential development approach.
“We need an imaginative use which opens up access to the site and makes the site a vital and prestigious centre for Reading and beyond.”
The society believe that Theatre and Arts Reading’s (TAR) arts hub vision is the best proposal. 
They have worked closely with TAR and theatre company ‘Reading between the Lines’ taking part in local media interviews to support MP Matt Rodda’s campaign.
Society members have also been asked to sign the petition to save the gaol and to encourage their family and friends to also. 
Mr Bennett believes the arts hub could be a place for young people to go to engage and develop.  
He said: “Looking at the “vision” for the centre of Reading at the moment there are some 20+ schemes, on brownfield sites and office to residential conversions, which will generate over 5,000 new housing units by 2025. 
“Young people have found their clubs have closed. 
“People coming to live in these new boxes need somewhere to go, to be engaged and to develop. 
“The default cannot just be to go to the pub.  
“Thames Lido is a shining example of what can be achieved with imagination, and resources, by restoring an old building, it is hugely popular as a venue, it has a diversity of uses, it draws Reading residents and people from London, Henley, Swindon and further afield.  
“This shows the potential for an imaginative solution for this building.”
He added: “We need to take action to increase the provision of arts, in the widest sense, in Reading and the prison site represents an opportunity to achieve that.”
Mr Bennett is encouraging people to sign MP Matt Rodda’s petition and to visit the stand at local events, most recently it was at Bastille Day.