Dorset

Dorchester Prison revamp plans stall over 'lack of resources'

Dorchester Prison Image copyright Google
Image caption It is believed Martha Brown, the last woman to be publicly hanged in Dorset, is buried at the site

Plans to redevelop a prison site, where the last woman to be hanged in Dorset is thought to be buried, have stalled.

Developer City and Country has permission for 200 homes to be built on the site of HMP Dorchester which closed in 2013.

However, it has admitted it has been looking for new partners to either work with it on the plans or take them over.

"To be upfront we just don't have the resources at the moment," Adrian Fox, the firm's planner, said.

He also told a town council planning meeting the company was still committed to "finding a future for the site" but after gaining planning permission in February 2017 added it was still unable to give a start date, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Image caption Archives show some of the Victorian prisoners incarcerated at Dorchester

The planning brief originally said pedestrian access could be achieved through Glyde Path Road by demolishing a building but the company now wants to convert it into a home.

Town councillor David Taylor said the proposal was "just so wrong" because it would "just cut people off".

City and Country also wants to build two new homes to the left of the prison access gate.

A final decision on the applications will be made by West Dorset District Council later in the year.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Julian Fellowes has previously led calls for all bodies at the site to be exhumed

It is believed Martha Brown, the last woman to be hanged in Dorset, is among former inmates buried at the site.

Her execution was witnessed by the author Thomas Hardy and was said to have inspired his novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes has previously led calls for all bodies at the site to be exhumed.

Officials have since agreed the remains of any exhumed bodies would be given a Christian burial.

In a statement, City and Country said it would "continue to work with specialists to sensitively exhume and relocate remains to Poundbury Cemetery ahead of planned redevelopment".

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