Jailhouse block: The converted Georgian prison where cells sorry, flats cost up to 650,000

Jailhouse block: The converted Georgian prison where cells – sorry, flats – cost up to 650,000

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UPDATED:

09:30 GMT, 8 October 2012

The picturesque market town of Abingdon-on-Thames is best known for its attractive redbrick buildings and tranquil setting rather than for its cutting-edge architecture.

But now a new development set on the banks of the river is set to combine the two.

Local developer Cranbourne is redeveloping the Old Gaol, which was built in 1811 by prisoners of the Napoleonic wars.

The development of 61 apartments set around a large communal courtyard garden is spread between the Georgian Old Gaol itself

The development of 61 apartments set around a large communal courtyard garden is spread between the Georgian Old Gaol itself

The development of 61 apartments set around a large communal courtyard garden is spread between the Georgian Old Gaol itself, the Grade II listed 17th Century Twickenham House, the former county police station and a new-build block of one, two and threebedroom apartments clad in Douglas fir which are connected to the old jail by two glass walkways.

‘We worked closely with English Heritage on the plans as this is a conservation area,’ says Jacqueline Proctor, sales manager for Cranbourne.

Most of the apartments have roof terraces or balconies with views over the Thames, town or the communal walled gardens. Every resident will be allocated at least one space in the underground car park as well as a storage area for bikes and bins.

The Old Gaol development is also expected to have benefits for Abingdon, which is six miles south of Oxford.

About five cafes and restaurants are set to open in autumn 2013 in addition to a public riverside terrace.

The first phase of apartments in the new block is planned to be finished by Christmas with buyers moving in at the end of this month, while the development as a whole should be completed by the end of next year.

The first phase of apartments in the new block is planned to be finished by Christmas with buyers moving in at the end of this month

The first phase of apartments in the new block is planned to be finished by Christmas with buyers moving in at the end of this month

Norma and Arthur Vickers have bought a two-bedroom apartment in the first phase after selling their three-bedroom bungalow in Sutton Courtenay five miles away, where they have lived for 30 years.

From their new balcony, they can see St Helen’s church, where their daughter was married in the Seventies.

‘The on-site gym was a big draw for me,’ says Norma, 82, who worked as a personnel officer for the Ministry of Defence before she retired.

‘I love keeping fit and line-dancing. We won’t be as cut-off here as we were in Sutton Courtenay because there are regular buses to Oxford and shops on our doorstep. It seemed the logical thing to do at our age.’

Retired IT manager Alan Waddon, 65, has also bought a two-bedroom apartment in the first phase following the death of his wife last year.

He sold his four-bedroom house in Wiltshire after discovering the Old Gaol while visiting a friend, and is renting until his property is ready at the end of this month.

‘I felt the house was too big for me on my own and I needed some sort of a fresh start,’ he says.

‘The Old Gaol appealed enormously because of the quality of the build and the fact that you have everything you want nearby, including the gym and restaurants.

I also have a dog and like the fact that there are lots of lovely walks close by.’ Karen Mole, head of new homes for Savills’ Summertown office in Oxford, points out that buyers can expect to pay a five per cent premium on properties in the development, compared with similar-sized properties locally, thanks to its location and facilities.

‘Because development land is so scarce in Oxford and the surrounding area we don’t have enough property,’ she says. ‘Developments like this don’t have much competition, which means prices have held their own.

‘It’s been a real mix of buyers so far, with some downsizers from the local area but international buyers and young professionals too. It’s also well located for independent schools including Abingdon School.’

One-bedroom apartments start at 234,500, going up to 389,000, while the penthouse in the first phase sold off-plan in January for 645,000. Management fees will be capped at 200 a month.

Savills 01865 269010