Reading Chronicle readers reacted with joy and surprise to the news that Banksy has offered to buy Reading Gaol for £10m.

The street artist wants to turn the disused HMP Reading prison into an arts hub – a feat attempted by the council in 2020, but their £2.6m bid was rejected by its owners the Ministry of Justice.

Dozens of residents joined MP Matt Rodda and Reading Borough Council in backing Banksy’s proposal, which would ensure the historic jail stays put.

“Go Banksy! I hope this goes ahead,” wrote one user on the Reading Chronicle Facebook page.

“It would be absolutely wonderful for Reading and the surrounding area.”

Reading Chronicle: HMP Reading prison, which Banksy has offered £10m forHMP Reading prison, which Banksy has offered £10m for

Another person agreed: “I certainly would support his bid. What a coup that would be for Reading.”

Read more: Photo of Reading Gaol by Caversham man wins national art award

One accounted posted: “That would be brilliant. He could show his art plus people could visit the jail: win-win.”

The news comes after it was revealed to the Reading Chronicle that a famous artist was eyeing up the space.

Banksy intends to raise funds for the purchase by selling their street art painted on the outer wall of the prison, named 'Create Escape’, which is estimated to be worth around £15m.

Reading Chronicle:  Banksy's 'Create Escape' painted on the outer wall of Reading Prison Banksy's 'Create Escape' painted on the outer wall of Reading Prison

“That would be fantastic for Reading. I know many who would fully support,” reacted one Reading resident to the news on Facebook.

“Yes! What a welcome to have some culture in Reading,” replied another.

Others said it would be “absolutely amazing, “exciting” and “great for Reading.”

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 their bid remains “firmly” on the table.

Reading Chronicle: Reading Borough Council leader Jason BrockReading Borough Council leader Jason Brock

“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,” he said.

Read more: Council reacts to Banksy bid for Reading prison 

“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.

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.

Reacting to Sunday’s announcement, Mr Rodda said: “I’m staggered by his generosity.

"I think Banksy’s been a wonderful philanthropist who potentially could change the local history of Reading quite significantly and make a big difference to our community.”

Banksy has been contacted for comment.