A NEW business park on the former prison site at Ashwell could be open as early as spring.
Rutland County Council wants to develop the land to provide 20 units including six offices and 14 industrial units for business use.
A master plan is under development and the council hopes to have planning permission for change of use of the land and legals approved by the Ministry of Justice by December.
If approved, the first units could be ready and open for businesses by spring next year.
The development is set to be funded by borrowing money against a business plan for the site and an interest free loan from the Local Enterprise Partnership. The council has not revealed the expected cost of the scheme as negotiations have yet to be completed.
More than 40 members of the public and councillors attended a meeting on Wednesday evening, where plans and progress with the development were discussed and questions answered.
Deputy leader for Rutland County Council, Councillor Terry King (Con), said: “This really is a long-term project for a key site in Rutland.
“We anticipate a total of around 20 units being made available, mainly aimed at small to medium sized businesses looking to relocate and expand, or perhaps new business start ups.
“We had a reasonable turn out from residents and councillors from Ashwell, Burley and Langham, who were keen to ask questions about access to the site and our master plan which we are currently working on.
“There were a few concerns but when you look at the options for the land, this really is a positive use for it.”
A business open day was held in May and since then the council has carried out a number of site visits with interested tenants.
The council hopes to contact those interested to confirm rent figures and phasing availability on the site in the near future.
Rutland County College has also expressed an interest in using a gymnasium on the site.
Coun King added: “The park will provide many opportunities for local business and attract companies from further afield.
“We’re still waiting for approval from the Ministry of Justice on the legals for it all to be 100 per cent certain but we’ll hopefully be in discussions with possible tenants in the next few months.”
Ashwell Prison was closed by the Ministry of Justice in March last year.
For more information and to ask questions to the council about the plans for the park, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org