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Five new prisons to be built by 2020 in cost-saving drive

10 November 2015

The new super-prison at Wrexham

The government has announced that it plans to open nine new prisons in England and Wales – five by 2020 – to replace ageing Victorian prisons in city centres with larger, more modern facilities.

About 10,000 inmates will be moved to the new prisons, in a move the government estimates will save it £80m a year in running costs. At the same time, selling the sites for housing will also allow more than 3,000 new homes to be built. 

Five new prisons, which are likely to form a £1bn plus construction programme, are due to open before the end of this parliament. They join an existing programme that includes the new super-prison being built at Wrexham, and the expansion of existing prisons in Stocken in Rutland and Rye Hill in Warwickshire.

The city centre prisons in line for sale are likely to include London's Brixton, Wandsworth, Wormwood Scrubs and Pentonville, while Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool also have old Victorian-era jails. 

The plan has been welcomed by design and construction consultancy Pick Everard, which believes the new-build programme would lead to significant savings for the government and taxpayers.

David Nisbet, partner at Pick Everard, said: “Building new, larger prisons is far more efficient than trying to update and maintain many of the antiquated facilities which are currently in place.

Pick Everard’s HMP Oakwood prison in Featherstone

“The investment made will be much more cost-effective in the medium to long term and will ensure that the programme of work can be tailored to current and future prison population levels.”

The firm cites its experience working on the new HMP Oakwood prison in Featherstone, near Wolverhampton.

Nisbet said:“The significant savings made for this scheme meant that it had one of the lowest running costs per prisoner in the country. BIM and modern construction methods were put in place to ensure at least £5m was saved on this project and the Ministry of Justice, and in turn council taxpayers, could benefit from the much lower day-to-day running costs achieved.”

More details on the policy are expected in chancellor George Osborne’s spending review due on 25 November.

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