Former prison buildings to be transformed

Work is under way to create a new future for former prison buildings as part of the Treadmills regeneration project in Northallerton, North Yorkshire.

Contractor Moody Construction is transforming the Victorian prison blocks, which have been derelict since Northallerton Prison closed in 2013.

The works involve external restoration and extensive internal redevelopment, modernisation and refurbishment of the Grade II listed prison, the oldest parts of which date back almost 200 years.

The £17m redevelopment of the site is being driven by Central Northallerton Development Company (CNDCL), a joint venture formed by Yorkshire property developer Wykeland Group and Hambleton District Council.

The latest phase will see four of the five old prison buildings transformed. The final building, the tenement block, will be converted later.

Two of the buildings, the former main cell block and female wing, will house Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) Northallerton, a community of tech specialists, building on the success of the C4DI digital hub in Hull.

Occupying 7,000 sq ft, C4DI Northallerton will have a key focus on agritech – the use of technology in agriculture, horticulture and food processing – to help these sectors develop and build an ecosystem of tech companies with supply chain and mentor access.

The hospital block is being remodelled to create 1,500 sq ft of offices and meeting rooms with additional breakout areas on the upper floor, while the ground floor will offer up to 4,500 sq ft of space for a bar/restaurant.

The old Governor’s House is being converted to accommodate a café on the ground floor and mixed uses on the upper floor, creating 3,500 sq ft of new space.

The works involve the retention of as many of the original prison features as possible.

Half of the original solid steel cell doors will be retained while internal walls will be removed to convert cells into offices for start-up and scale-up tech ventures.

External bars will be retained on windows as a feature in communal areas.

Conversion and modernisation works are due to be completed this autumn and will be followed by a two-month fit-out, with occupiers to move in early next year.

Jonathan Stubbs, development director of Wykeland and a CNDCL Board member, said: “We’re pleased to have appointed a local contractor to deliver this key phase of the Treadmills project, which will increase the benefits to the local economy.

“Establishing C4DI Northallerton will create an aspirational environment for tech entrepreneurs and specialists to collaborate and thrive.

“We’re keen to hear from tech-based businesses and freelancers who want to become part of this community.”

Leader of Hambleton District Council, Councillor Mark Robson, said: “We are creating new leisure and work spaces – people will come here not just to work but to socialise and shop, boosting the economy of our district.

“C4DI will keep our tech talent local and stem the brain drain from the area. It will also create a cluster of digital expertise to support local economic growth, especially through the development of agritech products, services and applications.”

John Connolly, managing director of C4DI, said: “Bringing traditional agriculture and food processing companies together with the tech sector will create new businesses and jobs and deliver a significant, wider impact on the local economy.”

Work on the old prison buildings is taking place as progress continues to be made on the first phase of Treadmills, which involves three retail units and a car park being created on the south side of the site.

The two larger retail units will be occupied by supermarket group Lidl and frozen food specialist Iceland. A further retail unit of 1,300 sq ft is also available.

Construction of this phase is due to be complete by this summer with Lidl and Iceland scheduled to open this autumn.

Treadmills is being supported by the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, which has secured £1.8m from the Government’s Local Growth Fund for the redevelopment and fit-out of the buildings that will be occupied by C4DI and other office users.