Reading Borough Council have welcomed Banksy’s bid for HMP Reading prison, after reports the artist will raise £10m for the site.

The street artist wants to turn the disused jail into an arts centre, according to the Times.

Banksy's representatives have informally approached the council, but it is unclear how their bid and the council’s own plans will interact.

Council leader Jason Brock said: “We very much welcome the attention that Banksy’s interest in Reading Gaol has placed on both the MoJ’s sale of the vacant prison and on the Council’s ambition to transform it into an hub of arts, heritage and culture of local and national significance.

Read more: 8 aerial shots of Reading Prison, Abbey and Forbury Gardens

Reading Chronicle: Aerial photograph of Reading prison by Tony McGinn of flyskydrones@hotmail.comAerial photograph of Reading prison by Tony McGinn of

“The Council has had only informal approaches from representatives of Banksy to date, but no detailed discussions.

“Our bid remains firmly on the table and has widespread support - both from within the community here in Reading and from the wider arts, heritage and cultural community - all of whom recognise the prison’s huge historical and cultural value.”

The Ministry of Justice rejected a £2.6m council bid in 2020 to turn the site into a heritage centre and arts hub with a cafe and housing.

In a letter to Justice Minister Dominic Raab, Reading East MP Matt Rodda said Banksy’s multi-million-pound pledge could top up council plans.

“Our position has always been that we want to work with the MoJ to ensure the historical and cultural value of this important site is given rightful prominence in any future development,” said Cllr Brock.

“We would additionally welcome and encourage any alternative bids to the MoJ which seek to achieve that, whether from community organisations or from members of the wider arts and cultural community.

“The strength of feeling to transform the prison into something truly special for Reading and beyond is clear to see and we very much hope this is taken into account by the MoJ as it comes to a decision on the sale.”