New £300 million high-security jail set to be built near Harborough has moved a big step closer

The huge project would create up to 700 jobs – and pour about £75 million into the Harborough economy

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 1:25 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 1:26 pm
A computer generated image of the new prison.

A massive new £300 million high-security jail set to be built near Market Harborough has moved a big step closer.

The Ministry of Justice is pushing ahead with the scheme to build the prison for 1,700 male prisoners at Gartree despite admitting the local community has got real “concerns” over the proposals.

The MoJ has now submitted a planning application to Harborough District Council just weeks after the controversial blueprint for the Category B establishment emerged.

Where the new prison would go.

The huge project would create up to 700 jobs – and pour about £75 million into the Harborough economy.

The MoJ is setting out to build one of the country’s biggest and greenest new jails beside the existing 56-year high-security prison at Gartree after staging an extensive public consultation in the summer.

Worried people in nearby villages such as Lubenham and Foxton, as well as Gartree itself, said they are seriously concerned the initiative will trigger far more traffic – and clog up narrow country roads.

And they are being backed to the hilt by Harborough councillor Cllr Phil Knowles, who represents neighbouring Great Bowden.

An MoJ spokesman said: “We have submitted plans for a new Category B prison next to HMP Gartree as part of our plans to create thousands more prison places and jobs.

“We have carefully considered feedback received by the local community at the pre-planning consultation which ran from 28 June-2 August.

“This feedback has helped us understand community concerns and how we can work to mitigate them, and the key benefits and how we can maximise them.”

He added: “We will continue to work with the local community to ensure the social and economic benefits we believe a new prison will bring to the area is felt by local residents and to minimise any disruption.”

But Cllr Knowles told the Harborough Mail: “I have many serious concerns about the plans to build this new giant prison.

“The Ministry of Justice has got a lot of questions to answer – and we want the answers urgently.

“The scheme to build this jail will have an enormous impact on the entire Gartree area,” said Cllr Knowles, who heads up the Liberal Democrat group on Harborough council.

“Several hundred new staff will obviously put a lot more traffic on local roads that are already overloaded.

“And they will also have an overwhelming effect on local infrastructure.

“Our local hospitals, medical centres, dentist’s and schools are already fit to bursting and will be put under far more pressure,” insisted Cllr Knowles.

“Ministry of Justice officials have to sit down with local parish councillors along with Harborough councillors so that we can all help to shape and decide the way forward.

“Local people and community leaders have also got to be heavily involved right from the start so that they can have a proper say in this as well.

“I am struggling to understand why the MoJ is moving to build a massive new jail at Gartree when we already have a prison there.

“Why don’t they put up a new jail somewhere else in England rather than right here in Harborough?

“It doesn’t make any sense.”