AMBITIOUS plans that could bring a cinema, shops and homes on the site of the first custom built jail in England have taken a leap forward with the sealing of a formal legal agreement.

Hambleton District Council and Hull-based developer Wykeland Group have formed the Central Northallerton Development Company to regenerate the 3.5-acre Northallerton Prison site.

It was home to tens of thousands of inmates over 230 years until it closed nearly four years ago.

Loading article content

The joint venture is considered to be the town centre’s most significant development scheme for decades.

The company aims to deliver proposals including retail units, workspaces, a heritage centre, flats, restaurants, a cinema and a public events area.

Wykeland managing director Dominic Gibbons said: “With the formal structures for the development company in place, we can now move forward together to deliver this very exciting scheme. We’re really looking forward to working closely with the local authority’s members and officers to bring an important part of Northallerton’s heritage back to life and deliver significant economic and community benefits to the town and its people.

“We’re currently working up detailed plans for a planning application to be submitted in the first quarter of 2018. Although the development is in its early stages, we have had significant interest from commercial operators who recognise the potential of this project.”

The council's chief executive Justin Ives added: “This site gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only support and strengthen the retail and leisure economy of Northallerton, but to benefit the whole of the Hambleton district. Wykeland shares our goals to create a high quality scheme which will benefit the whole community – so we are very much looking forward to working with them.”

In preparation for the development, several buildings have been bulldozed, which due to the thickness of the walls took demolition contractors 10,920 hours of work to complete.

Extensive archaeological works have been carried out, which unearthed foundations for the world’s largest treadmill. Five listed buildings have been retained, including the former female prison wing and the Governor’s House.

These buildings will be sympathetically refurbished and incorporated into the new site.

Hambleton District Council bought the site from the Ministry of Justice in 2014 to secure a key strategic site close to the town centre for development.

The legal agreement follows a decision by the council to select Wykeland following a competitive tendering exercise.