Under-threat town landmark Reading Gaol appears to have been handed a major Christmas lifeline.

The iconic prison – known as a Mecca of the LGBT community – has faced an uncertain future, with many fearing housing developers would demolish the historic site.

For more than a year, campaigners have joined The Reading Chronicle in calling for the site to be saved and festive wishes may finally have come true with a potential reprieve being announced.

READ MORE: Actor Sir Kenneth Branagh and Game of Thrones star back campaign to save Reading Gaol

Taking to Twitter today, government minister and Conservative MP for Reading West, Alok Sharma, confirmed the green light has been given for Reading Borough Council to develop a business case for the future of the gaol.

Reading Chronicle: Reading Prison to remain "mothballed" as MoJ confirm site will stay empty

Reading Gaol

He wrote: “Been making case to @MoJGovUK (Ministry of Justice) over some time for a regeneration of Reading Gaol which recognises its iconic heritage & delivers a local arts and culture hub.

“Thanks @RobertBuckland (Secretary State for Justice) for confirming period of exclusivity for @ReadingCouncil to develop a business case with partners!”

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

The news comes a year after The Reading Chronicle made a front page plea of “All I want for Christmas is… to save Reading Gaol” to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Hopes were crushed earlier this year, however, when it was agreed the site could be sold off to the highest bidder.

But just weeks ago there was a further twist in the saga, as the winning bidder was revealed to have pulled out of the deal.

Developer Artisan Real Estate was due to buy the old prison for an undisclosed sum, according to the BBC.

Reading Chronicle:

Last year's Christmas Chronicle front page

The Reading Chronicle promoted a campaign push to secure the site’s future throughout 2019, with weekly coverage for six months highlighting community ambitions to preserve the prison’s historic and cultural value.

The prison is infamous for its incarceration of playwright Oscar Wilde who, according to the British Library, was found guilty of "acts of gross indecency with other male persons" in 1895.

Reading Chronicle: Oscar Wilde spent two years in Reading Prison

Oscar Wilde

In recent weeks, a number of high profile celebrities – including Sir Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench – have spoken out in support of the prison.

Reading East MP Matt Rodda has been influential in gaining support and highlighting the issue within parliament.

Following today’s update, he said: Some good news for the Campaign to #SaveReadingGaol.

“The MoJ has offered to give @ReadingCouncil a chance to make a community bid for the site, before considering offers from developers.”

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