New Chorley Prison MoJ
The seven cross-shaped blocks of the proposed Chorley prison are pictured in the centre

Chorley earmarked for UK’s third-largest prison

Neil Tague

A consultation has opened on plans for a new Government prison tipped to accommodate almost 2,000 inmates, while an overhaul of gym and sports facilities is lined up for another Lancashire site, HMP Kirkham.

The Ministry of Justice proposes developing a prison next to HMP Garth and HMP Wymott in Chorley, a site already in its ownership.

The proposal is part of the Government’s £4bn New Prisons Programme, intended to make “significant progress” in reaching its target of adding 18,000 places to the nation’s prison estate by the mid-2020s through a blend of new build, redevelopment and extensions.

Under the plans, the Chorley site would house a Category C prison, one of the two lowest security levels for institutions in the UK, for people serving a sentence of 12 months or more for crimes including violence, threat of violence, arson, drug dealing, sex offences and more.

According to the MoJ’s current preferred design for Cat C prisons, the facility would house seven separate accommodation blocks, each with four floors that would house around 60 prisoners each. The total capacity would be 1,715, which would make the Chorley prison the UK’s third largest by capacity based on official statistics from May. HMP Oakwood near Wolverhampton has operational capacity of 2,106 and Berwyn with 1,801.

Three other prisons are currently on site using the Cat C design template in Yorkshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire.

As part of the Chorley plans, the boiler house that services the existing two prisons – the high-security Garth and Cat C Wymott – would be relocated, as would the Wymott bowling club.

A consultation is now open and runs until 19 July.

Also in Lancashire, the MoJ has lodged plans with Fylde Council to demolish the existing gymnasium at HMP Kirkham, a Category D open prison, with architect Tp bennett developing the plans.

Permission is sought for a 20,766 sq ft sports hall/gym along with five multiuse games areas of 8,600 sq ft each at the prison, which was built on the site of a former RAF technical training centre. Because of this, many of the buildings, services and infrastructure are of a pre-World War II vintage, with non-accommodation buildings created out of old hangars. Two hangars were demolished in 2008.

The design and access statement submitted to Fylde for a site classed as Green Belt describes the existing gym in Hangar 5 as “beyond any reasonable attempt to repair and therefore not suitable for refurbishment”.

The statement goes on to say that the proposed development “will both significantly enhance sports facilities at the site and is essential to its operation, particularly in the context of previous consents that have extended the prison’s capacity”.

Kirkham Sports Pitches Plan

The plans include five outdoor sports pitches and a sports hall

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