Page last updated at 09:03 GMT, Monday, 22 March 2010

Work begins on the site of an old jail in Oxfordshire

Abingdon Gaol
The gaol was completed in 1811 by Napoleonic prisoners of war

Work has begun to transform a 199-year-old jail in an Oxfordshire town into new flats, shops and restaurants.

The former Abingdon Gaol was built in 1811 by Napoleonic prisoners and became a leisure centre in 1974 before closing in 2002.

Part of the site will start to be demolished this week followed by an archaeological investigation.

If nothing is found within six months construction will begin of 61 new homes and an underground car park.

The flats, built by Cranbourne Homes, will have solar power and grey water recycling facilities.

Included in the scheme are 24 affordable homes at two other sites in the town.

Plans to convert it have been controversial with many local people who wanted more community space and better public access to the river.

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