Rutland County Council completes deal to turn former Ashwell Prison site into business park

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Rutland County Council has completed a deal to buy the former Ashwell Prison site to transform it into a 25-acre business park.

The council will submit a planning application in the next few weeks for the business park, after it completed the deal with the Ministry of Justice. It has funded the purchase with an interest-free loan from the Local Enterprise Partnership.

The park will have offices and industrial units for small to medium sized businesses and if the plans are approved, the first tenants could have moved in by the end of the summer.

Council leader Roger Begy (Con) said: “This is a very exciting project for the local community and is important for two reasons.

“Firstly, it provides much-needed business units and facilities at affordable rates, giving local businesses and entrepreneurs the chance to get themselves up and running.

“Secondly, it secures the future of a key site in Rutland, which could easily have remained boarded up for a number of years.”

As well as offering space for business use, there is also a gym, sports hall and an all-weather pitch , which the council hopes to make available to local clubs.

Coun Begy said: “Lots of businesses have already contacted the council after hearing about our plans last year, and we are more than happy to talk to any small to medium sized business, who may be thinking about relocating or expanding.”

The council is putting together the plans with a technical team, including architects, electricians and a project manager.

During the next few months, the fencing and razor wire will be removed and the concrete accomodation blocks damaged in the 2009 riots will be demolished. Any refurbishment will take place over the next few years.

The prison closed in 2011 because the Ministry of Justice said it would not be financially viable to rebuild it following the riots. The council has been discussing buying the site since and has held open days and meetings with residents.

The Rutland Times asked the council to reveal the price it had paid for the site. The council said it was happy to do so but “out of courtesy was checking this with the Ministry of Justice”.