The developer whose bid to buy Reading Prison was accepted by the government has now pulled out of buying the historic site.

Artisan Real Estate was revealed last night as the successful bidder for Reading Prison at the same time as the Ministry of Justice announced the company has decided to no longer buy the site.

The MoJ had previously rejected a bid from the council for the old prison, where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated, and the council now wants to see if it will reconsider a community-focused bid.

READ MORE: Reading Prison sale falls through as developer pulls out

But who are Artisan Real Estate and what were their plans for the site? And what happens now?

Founded in 2009, the business describes itself as “an independent, values led, entrepreneurial business” and says it has become a “respected and highly sought-after property developer and investor”, managing and delivering a varied portfolio of high-profile projects across England and Scotland”.

It has developments in locations such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol and Leeds, a focus on hotels, low carbon homes and offices.

Artisan calls itself “regeneration specialists” with developments “inspired by the past but made for the future” and says it creates well-designed, well-connected spaces where people want to live, socialise and work.

Councillor Tony Page, deputy leader of Reading Borough Council (RBC), told BBC Berkshire Artisan had offered “many millions” for the site and wanted to centre the re-development around a hotel.

The council is now looking to re-open discussions about turning the site into an arts and heritage hub.

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Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Cllr Page said: “We have written to the MoJ asking for a meeting and have asked local MPs to expedite a meeting to discuss options.

“We want to have a full and open discussion with them about options. We want to ensure a community-led option is seriously considered by the department.

“We are keen for an opportunity to work with them to see if that is something, they would look at more seriously than last year. We have some proposals we are willing to put to them.

“It is costing them £20,000 a month to look after the building and the building is deteriorating.”

Cllr Page says he thinks ministry officials wanted to get the prison “off the books as soon as possible” and said “purely looking at what is going to offer the most money has ended in tears”.

He added: “I hope that [Reading MPs] Matt Rodda and Alok Sharma, who have leant their support to a scheme that would provide maximum public access and community and cultural benefit, will use their good offices to ensure that option if looked at more seriously.”

Reading East MP Matt Rodda last night told the LDRS the campaign to turn the prison into an arts and community hub “is back on” and he is also looking to arrange an early meeting with the ministry.

Artisan was approached for comment but had not responded to the LDRS at the time the story was published.