New images of 'super jail' next to HMP Gartree have been released ahead of planning meeting

A computer generated image of how the house blocks will lookA computer generated image of how the house blocks will look
A computer generated image of how the house blocks will look
New images of a controversial ‘super jail’ next to HMP Gartree have been released.

A planning application looking at the huge security fence, layout, access and parking at the site was deferred last month after Harborough District councillors requested further details from the Ministry of Justice.

But councillors have now been recommended to approve the plans at a meeting taking place tonight (Tuesday).

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They include a five metre high secure perimeter fence, with nearly two and a half metres consisting of a solid steel sheet and the top of the fence fitted with barbed wire.

CGI aerial image of the siteCGI aerial image of the site
CGI aerial image of the site

The planning document includes computer generated impressions showing how the £300million prison adjacent existing HMP Gartree will look.

The new site – the largest Category B prison in England - will hold up to 1,715 men across seven housing blocks and is detailed as a ‘training prison’.

Entry to the site for prisoners and visitors will be through a Entrance Resource Hub including reception and hall for prisoner visits. There will also be a gate house monitoring access to the kitchen, support buildings and two workshops where 750 prisoners will partake in education or work.

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Past this area the residential compound will be built, including seven four-storey housing blocks, a ‘care and separation unit’ and a services hub providing educational, health, multi-faith and staff facilities.

Each houseblock – expected to reach around 17 metres high - will contain three accommodation wings and one ancillary wing where teaching, healthcare, cardio rooms, food and laundry are provided. They will each house around 240 prisoners.

One of the houseblocks is for older prisoners with additional medical care and accessible bathrooms.

The prison will be accessed via a new connection to Welland Avenue. A car park will also be built here with 189 visitor spaces, 431 staff spaces for 16 accessible spaces. There will also be a dedicated pedestrian and cycle route to the prison entrance.

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The updated plans read: “The layout of this prison has been designed with an emphasis on being operationally safe, secure and efficient but also supports the development of an environment and regime which is as normalised as possible for prisoners.

“The houseblocks will each hold approximately 240 prisons, across four floors, with three wings per floor, resulting in around 20 prisoners on each wing. This creates smaller communities on each wing and floor of the houseblocks compared to older prisons, enabling prisoners and staff to interact more frequently and effectively on a personal levels and help prisoners and staff feel safer than they would in larger communities.

“The two workshop complexes will be the nosiest buildings in which up to 750 prisoners will be engaged in work and learning, containing light and heavy industrial-type workshops and have been located as far away as possible from the residential properties on the Gartree Estate.”

The prison plans were unanimously turned down by Harborough District Council in 2022. A public inquiry held by a government planning inspector then recommended the application by the Ministry of Justice by refused.

But Secretary of State Michael Gove gave the green light to the prison, which when completed will be around the size of 14 football pitches.

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