The future of Wandsworth Prison has been left hanging in the balance as the Ministry of Justice announced "old Victorian prisons" could be closed to make way for as many as 3,000 new homes.

The announcement of a major prison reform programme, by George Osborne and Michael Gove, will see nine new prisons built, allowing Victorian prisons in city centres to be sold off.

Wandsworth Times: Wandsworth Prison unveils refurb

Details of which prisons will be closed will be confirmed by November 25 in a spending review, but Reading prison will be the first to be sold.

In a speech made at Brixton Prison on November 9, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: "This spending review is about reform as much as it is about making savings.

"One important step will be to modernise the prison estate. So many of our jails are relics from Victorian times on prime real estate in our inner cities.

"So we are going to reform the infrastructure of our prison system, building new institutions which are modern, suitable and rehabilitative. And we will close old, outdated prisons in city centres, and sell the sites to build thousands of much-needed new homes.

"This will save money, reform an outdated public service and create opportunity by boosting construction jobs and offering more people homes to buy."

The reform programme will mean 10,000 prisoners will have to be moved.

Steve Gillan, general secretary of the trade union for prison, correctional and secure psychiatric works, said: "It is speculation at this stage, which is nothign new for us.

"The government has a policy of new for old, but it is sad that they have failed to invest in the fabric of prisons.

"The reality is there are now 7,000 fewer officers then when this government took over.

"All we are seeing is a regurgitation of what Ken Clarke said and where he failed."

Mr Gillan said the constant announcements without clarity of which prisons could be closed were "frustrating" for prison workers.

He said: "We would say to all our members that every prison is at risk under this government.

"I do not think the prison population will reduce from its record high to allow Michael Gove to do what he wants to do.

"We will wait with baited breath to find out which ones they will close."

Early estimates indicate savings of £80m through modernisation and improvements to rehabilitation.