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HMP Wellingborough

A £1.3 billion programme of prison-building projects by the Ministry of Justice looks set to offer opportunities for contractors but patience will be needed.

The MOJ’s biggest project is HMP Wellingborough, which is a £253 million 1,680-place category C prison in Northamptonshire (Glenigan Project ID:  08409307).

Pick Everard and HLM are designing the 60,000 sq m prison, which is being built by Kier.

Work started in June this year, when outgoing prisons minister Rory Stewart said: “We will deliver on our commitment to build up to 10,000 modern and decent prison places to replace old, expensive-to-maintain and unsuitable accommodation, and the start of work at Wellingborough is an important step forward.”

MOJ among top clients

The MOJ is among the construction industry’s leading clients according to Glenigan’s market research. In the 12 months to May 2019, the underlying value of projects awarded by the MOJ totalled £305.7 million.

This sum ranked the MOJ in 14th position in Glenigan’s latest top 100 ranking of the industry’s leading clients, but other prison schemes are being delayed.

The £170 million HMP Glen Parva (Glenigan Project ID: 08162819) is now being retendered.

Interserve was originally appointed preferred for a Private Finance Initiative concession and due to start work earlier this year. After a review, the government has decided not to use PFI and contractors will need to be tolerant as this and other prison projects slowly move through the system,

“This programme will be a major boost to the sector, but the impact on the ground during the next two years will be limited,” says Glenigan economics director Allan Wilén.

Other projects

After announcing the prison-building programme in 2016, the government planned to get five prisons open by 2020, but other justice projects in the programme are at the pre-tender stage or have been cancelled, such as the £150 million Port Talbot Prison (Glenigan Project ID: 17106036).

A £50 million redevelopment of HMP Rochester (Glenigan Project ID: 17107774) is also being reviewed, but others are inching closer. The £91 million Full Sutton prison in Yorkshire was approved in 2017 and contractors have submitted bids according to Glenigan’s information (Glenigan Project ID: 17106042).

New plans were submitted earlier this year for the project, which is being designed by Bryden Young and built on the site of an existing prison. The MOJ has opted to increase the proposed number of inmates at the Category C prison from 1,017 to 1,440.

Scottish prisons

Plans are also in the pipeline for major prison projects in Scotland, but these have also been beset by delays.

A £70 million proposal to replace Inverness Prison with a new £70 million facility for the north of Scotland has been put back until 2023 (Glenigan Project ID: 16153800). Instead, the Scottish Prison Service is prioritising a new £50 million National Women’s Facility to replace HMP Cornton Vale (Glenigan Project ID: 17411979). Tenders have been returned and a start is anticipated by May 2020.

Once this has started, the SPS will focus on a £250 million Super Jail proposed for a site at Provan Gasworks, which was identified earlier this year by consultants Colliers International. The Inverness scheme will be the next priority.

With reviews and resubmissions, the prison-building programme in England and Scotland will take time to come to fruition but should offer opportunities for contractors over the next few years.