BBC News - 30 June 2015
Plans to convert a former prison in Dorchester into a hotel or flats have been revealed at a public meeting.
The predominantly Victorian structure was bought by heritage developer City & Country in February.
The plan stems from a first public consultation held in April.
The hilltop building with a Grade II listed gateway was the site of the last woman to be publically hanged in Dorset in 1856.
The site is1.95 hectared (4.8 acres) and includes the cell blocks, a gym and sports hall, a kitchen, and education centre and an open exercise yard.
Archive records of Victorian prisoners at Dorchester show they were sentenced to hard labour for crimes including the theft of bees and “six cheeses”.
Elizabeth Martha Brown was the last woman to be publically hanged outside the prison after she was convicted of killing her second husband.
The conversion plan is to retain the main building and gatehouse but to replace what City & Country calls “the unsympathetic modern additions” that “hold no architectural or historic value”.
Basic designs for hotel rooms and apartment rooms have been presented to the public to garner their thoughts.
Richard Winsbourough, head of planning at City & Country said: “Hotel use is just one option for the site having evaluated the feedback from the first consultation.
“The Malmaison in Oxford is a good example of successful prison-to-hotel conversion.”
Other ideas that had been put forward by the public included affordable housing, a museum, a community centre and an art gallery with shops and restaurants.
Mr Winsborough said: “We shall be holding a third round of public consultation in approximately four to six weeks’ time, at which stage we shall be closer to the final designs.
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