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PICTURES: First look at how Shrewsbury's Dana Prison may be transformed

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

Plans to transform Shrewsbury's Dana Prison will be considered in the next few weeks, and a series of images have revealed how the development will look.

The proposal, from the Trevor Osborne Property Group, seeks permission to convert the prison into a mixed-use site with student accommodation, flats, a gym, lecture halls, as well as using its listed wall to create a walled garden.

How the Dana might look

Mark Panter of Panter Hudpsith architects, which has worked on the plans for site, explained the vision for the development.

He said: "Sensitively restored historic buildings set within a landscaped walled garden is the vision for the Dana Prison.

"Rather than incarcerating prisoners, the prison walls will form the backdrop for a landscaped path around the prison perimeter.

"There will be a mix of uses that are appropriate for both the historic significance of the prison buildings and that are desirable and viable for the Castlefields area of Shrewsbury."

How the Dana might look
How the Dana might look

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Mr Panter said they hoped that the plans would go before Shropshire Council's Central Planning Committee next month.

He said: "We have had productive meetings with planning and highways officers, providing further information on how the development at the Dana will evolve.

"We have responded to comments on our original proposals and addressed the concerns of the local residents in respect of on street parking in the area.

"We are hopeful that the scheme will now be considered at the August planning committee."

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Under the plans, A wing, which was originally constructed as part of the site overhaul between 1885 to 1888 will be refurbished to provide up to 108 student rooms.

Student kitchens will also be provided giving a gallery kitchen and a dining area, and separating the overall space into flats of between six and eight students.

B&D wings, which range from 1787 are some of the oldest on the site, and will be converted into private residential apartments.

How the Dana might look
How the Dana might look

C wing, which was originally the female wing, will also be refurbished and reused to provide student accommodation for 16 people.

One cell and a half will be converted to provide an en-suite student bedroom.

The application suggests that the atrium space could be used to house communal and social areas for students including dining and kitchen spaces.

The Gatehouse, which is part of the original Georgian prison, will be a mix of residential units.

It is proposed that the existing gymnasium will be refurbished to provide a modern health and sports club, while the Lancasterian School, which was absorbed into the prison estate in 1988 when the school closed, will be converted into residential apartments. Up to 11 in total.

A design and access statement submitted as part of the application outlines how the development will achieve owner Trevor Osborne’s vision of a “walled garden for Shrewsbury”.

It states: "The prison wall is a dominant feature of the site - once used as a method of containment and defence - it is important that this is preserved as an inherent part of the site's history, and is Grade II listed.

"It is a landmark within the town.

"Our proposal is a re-imagining of this structure, as the boundary of a walled garden with buildings within.

"Envisaging the prison as a garden is unique and provides a framework for understanding the spaces between the buildings - each as outdoor rooms linking one block to another, but each as individual gardens in their own right.

"On a walk around the walls visitors will be able to inhabit various courtyard gardens each with their own unique feel."

Recently, the prison announced plans to allow visitors to explore the site on their own.

Jailhouse Tours began trips round the former jail last year.

The policy will enable people to tour the site, where seven inmates were executed for murder between 1902 and 1961, on their own instead of as part of a group.

Jailhouse Tours, the company which has operated the former prison as a tourist attraction since last year, says the new policy means people will be able to tour the site on their own, and not as part of a tour group.

Visitors heading out on their own will be given a guide and a map. They can even join tours taking place as they go round.

Joel Campbell, who has managed the prison tours, said: "It is very straight forward.

"We have put up a number of signs, produced visitor guides and maps and although the experience will be different you can go at your own pace, see everything that is there and even hop onto a guided tour.

"We just want to make it more accessible and easier for people to see the prison. We just wanted to make it more accessible. We find at the moment that a lot of people turn up and want to go on the tours on days we are not running them.

Every weekend we get people turning up when a tour has just started and they then have to wait for two hours."

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