Oxford

Construction starts on Abingdon Gaol development

Abingdon Gaol
Image caption The jail was completed in 1811 by Napoleonic prisoners of war

Construction work has begun to transform a 199-year-old jail in an Oxfordshire town into new flats, shops and restaurants.

The former Abingdon Gaol was built in 1811 by Napoleonic prisoners and became a leisure centre in 1974 before closing in 2002.

Demolition started in March alongside an archaeological dig.

Initial work on an underground car park will be followed by the building of 61 flats and four restaurants.

The flats, built by Cranbourne Homes, will have solar power and grey water recycling facilities.

Included in the scheme are 24 affordable homes at two other sites in the town.

'Fantastic area'

Plans to convert the former jail have been controversial with many local people saying they wanted more community space and better public access to the river.

It is hoped that the site will be completed by autumn 2014.

Councillor Tony de Vere, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, said: "As an Abingdon resident myself I know how much the Old Gaol means to everyone in the town.

"Over the coming weeks we will begin to see the transformation of this historic site into an area which will play a major role in the town's future by attracting businesses and creating a substantial amount of jobs during construction and within the businesses on site once open.

"The site, right on the Thames, is arguably the best location in the town and once completed will provide a fantastic area for people to spend time in."

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