READING East MP, Matt Rodda, has written to the prisons minister to urge the government to reconsider the sale of Reading gaol.

The move comes after the government’s heritage watchdog, Historic England, released a report on Reading town centre and Reading Prison.

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In the report, Historic England discusses the future of Reading gaol, and says “any reuse needs to secure and exploit its historic and cultural significance, and there are a number of potential uses and precedents that should be explored”.

It continues: “The Panel felt that the Council’s concept of a cultural hub and the future of the wider site needed to be developed with consideration of the broader strategic needs of the town, including the aspirations for a theatre.”

In the letter to Lucy Frazer, Mr Rodda said: “I am writing to ask you to reconsider the sale of the prison, following a report by the Government’s own heritage watch dog, Historic England, which has called for the gaol to be saved and used by the community, rather than sold off for use as luxury flats.”

He added: “Historic England, described the prison as 'austere but atmospheric', and added that 'the presence of Oscar Wilde’s cell produced a palpable sense of awe'.”

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Mr Rodda also mentioned more than 8,000 people signed a petition to save the gaol and turn it into an arts hub.

The success of the Reading Gaol ‘hug’ was also cited which saw 1,000 people turn up in support of saving the prison.

Earlier this year, Reading Borough Council’s bid to purchase the prison was rejected by the Ministry of Justice.

The council expressed its disappointment but vowed to work with the successful bidder to ensure its huge historical and cultural value is recognised in any future development.