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Shrewsbury Dana Prison cells for live-in university students

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

Students will live in cells under "imaginative proposals" revealed today by the man leading a bid to renovate the Dana Prison.

The Dana

Trevor Osborne, chairman of the Osborne Group which purchased the building for a seven figure sum last year, said the plans could see the building host around 200 students from Shrewsbury's new university.

He said: "We have drawn up some very imaginative proposals for making a mixed use development with accommodation for student housing within the cell blocks.

"It seems to us it would make very good student accommodation within a completely changed and improved landscaped environment but still retaining the original architecture."

Trevor Osborne talking to the town council

Mr Osborne said that the mixed use plans could also include housing, or accommodation for people who might be visiting students.

He said: "There could be a variety of places to live, to stay if you're a student, there could be accommodation in terms of some hotel rooms, and then there could be some office suites."

The Dana's location, near to Shrewsbury Railway Station, also lends itself to student housing according to Mr Osborne.

He said: "We think the location, so close to the station would be very good indeed for that proposal and would reduce the need for car traffic."

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The developer, who previously transformed Oxford's prison into the Malmaison Hotel, said he is excited about the possibilities the Dana offers. He said: "We are very enthusiastic to see the Dana put to decent use and the architecture remaining as well the history of the building."

Mr Osborne also revealed that a series of open days where the public can view the prison will be held later in the summer.

The strikingly forbidding interior of the former Dana prison

Alan Mosley, leader of Shrewsbury Town Council, today welcomed the potential for the development to host students.

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He said: "I think residents are delighted that the prison will be put to some useful purpose.

"There have been discussions about it being student accommodation and I am sure residents would welcome that as a plan. It is an interesting proposal, especially if it provides facilities which are available for the community to use."

Mr Osborne hinted in January the Dana project could be linked to University Centre Shrewsbury.

He said at the time: "I am pleased the university is interested in establishing a campus here. Cities and towns with student populations are economically more viable.

"I do not know whether it will feature as part of the university plans. I would like very much to meet with them because I regard their presence as a very positive thing.

"If we can bring this part of Shrewsbury, important because of its history and what it represented, back to life with your help then I am up for it and am looking forward to working with you all.

"It is a great town, the future looks good with the prospect of a university being here, the improvements to the railway station, things are looking pretty good. I do not see many empty shops, it feels like it is a town that is expanding."

The Dana dates back to 1793 but closed in spring 2013.

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