Prison-to-homes project approved

A scheme which will see a former Portsmouth prison turned into hundreds of homes have been approved by the Portsmouth City Council.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios will convert the 19th century Kingston Prison into 230 homes. The works will include a mix of redevelopment and new build, with a landscape masterplan by Grant Associates.

The building’s cell wings, chapel and infirmary will be re-modelled for residential use with new-build low-rise apartment blocks located to the edges of the site. The former prison’s listed walls will be retained and its gatehouse redeveloped to include a cafe.

Grant Associates’ design concept considers the landscape as a “primarily shared space” and will create a series of enclosed courtyard gardens as well as plant various tree species on site.

John Dawkins, Associate at Grant Associates, commented:

“The landscape strategy is a key aspect to transforming people’s perception of this former prison site and creating a beautiful setting for residents’ homes.

“Guided by the concept of ‘Living in a Garden’, the strategy emphasises magnificent planting and horticultural excellence within a series of garden ‘rooms’, each with their own character. The different planting communities and groups will provide a rich and stimulating environment for residents and visitors to enjoy across the seasons.

“The planting design also will have a strong wildlife-friendly bias with species selected for their value to wildlife, either through food sources or habitat.”

Built in 1877, Kingston Prison is a prime example of the ‘panopticon’ radial prison design that found favour in the late 19th century. The idea was that prisoners, housed in radiating cells, could be observed from a central rotunda.

The design team will now commence the post-planning stage for the scheme, which is owned by developer City & Country.