Local contractor Moody Construction is transforming the Victorian prison blocks, which have been derelict since Northallerton Prison closed in 2013.
The works involve external restoration and extensive internal redevelopment, modernisation and refurbishment of the Grade II listed prison buildings, the oldest parts of which date back almost 200 years.
The £17m redevelopment of the former prison site is being driven forward by Central Northallerton Development Company Ltd (CNDCL), a joint venture formed by leading Yorkshire property developer Wykeland Group and Hambleton District Council.
The latest phase of the Treadmills scheme will see four of the five former prison buildings transformed. The final building, the tenement block, will be converted at a later stage.
Two of the buildings, the former main cell block and female wing, will house Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) Northallerton, an exciting new community of tech specialists, building on the success of the C4DI digital hub in Hull.
Occupying a total of 7,000 sq ft of space, C4DI Northallerton will have a key focus on agritech – the use of technology in agriculture, horticulture and food processing – to help these sectors to develop and grow and build an ecosystem of tech companies with supply chain and mentor access.
The hospital block is being remodelled to create 1,500 sq ft of offices and meeting rooms with additional breakout areas on the upper floor, while the ground floor offering up to 4,500 sq ft of space for a bar/restaurant will be developed with the selected end user.
The former Governor’s House is being converted to accommodate a café operator on the ground floor and mixed uses on the upper floor, creating a total of 3,500 sq ft of new space.
Half of the original solid steel cell doors will be retained while internal walls will be removed to convert cells into offices for start-up and scale-up tech ventures. External bars will be retained on windows as a feature in communal areas of the office spaces.
The C4DI area will feature a new partially glazed roof section creating light and space in what was previously dark and cramped accommodation for inmates.
The conversion and modernisation works are due to be completed this autumn and will be followed by a two-month fit-out, with occupiers due to move in early next year.
Jonathan Stubbs, Development Director of Wykeland and a CNDCL Board member, said: “We’re pleased to have appointed a local contractor to deliver this key phase of the Treadmills project, which will increase the benefits to the local economy, and excited that work is now well under way on the heart of the prison site.
“Establishing C4DI Northallerton will create an aspirational environment for tech entrepreneurs and specialists to collaborate and thrive. We’re keen to hear from tech-based businesses and freelancers who want to become part of this exciting new community, based in a unique, characterful setting.”
Leader of Hambleton District Council, Councillor Mark Robson, said seeing Treadmills taking shape so quickly was exciting not just for Northallerton but the whole of the Hambleton district. “We are creating new leisure and work spaces – people will come here not just to work but to socialise and shop, boosting the economy of our district,” he said.
“C4DI will keep our tech talent local and stem the brain drain from the area. It will also create a cluster of digital expertise to support local economic growth, especially through the development of agritech products, services and applications.”
John Connolly, Managing Director of C4DI, said: “It’s fantastic to see the work taking place to create a unique new home for tech innovation and collaboration in Northallerton.
“Bringing traditional agriculture and food processing companies together with the tech sector will create new businesses and jobs and deliver a significant, wider impact on the local economy.”
Northallerton-based Moody Construction will celebrate its centenary next year and is bringing to the Treadmills scheme extensive experience of delivering heritage projects.
Construction Director James Moody said: “As a long-established Northallerton company, we’re very familiar with the history and heritage of the former prison site and appreciate how important it is to the town and its people.
“We’re delighted to have been appointed to carry out these works to restore and convert the prison buildings, paving the way for new uses and occupiers.”
The transformation of the former prison buildings is taking place as strong progress continues to be made on the first phase of the Treadmills scheme, which is seeing three retail units and a car park created on the south side of the site.
The two larger retail units will be occupied by supermarket group Lidl and frozen food specialist Iceland. A further retail unit of 1,300 sq ft is also available.
Construction of this phase is due to be complete by this summer with the Lidl and Iceland stores scheduled to open this autumn, following fit-out.
All construction work on site is taking place with extensive safety measures in place, complying fully with Government and construction industry guidelines introduced in response to the Covid-19 emergency.
The Treadmills project is being strongly supported by the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, which has secured £1.8m from the Government’s Local Growth Fund for the redevelopment and fit-out of the buildings that will be occupied by C4DI and other office users.
David Dickson, Chair of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership Infrastructure and Joint Assets Board, said: “This is a landmark project offering tremendous potential for economic growth. We liked the ambition of the scheme to create a digital hub in Northallerton which will draw new businesses in, support existing firms and retain talent in the area.”