MOVES to buy the now-closed Northallerton prison and incorporate it into ambitious development plans for the centre of the town have been approved.

Hambleton District Council’s cabinet have given the go-ahead for officers to start negotiations to buy the building from the Ministry of Justice.

It is proposed it will feature in a major new “masterplan” for the town – which could see new homes, leisure, heritage and education provision built. The scheme also takes in the now-empty Rural Payment Agency offices and Crosby Road car park.

The Ministry of Justice wants to dispose of the prison by March next year – but is holding off putting it on the open market to allow time for negotiations with the district council.

“Buying the prison will be an exciting new initiative for the council – and one which will add a new dimension to our masterplan for the centre of the town,” said the authority’s deputy leader, Cllr Peter Wilkinson.

The purchase price should be known by the end of the year.