New prisons plan may unlock door to new homes

A wave of new homes are potentially set for London amid plans to sell off Wandsworth, Wormwood Scrubs and Pentonville prisons.

Old, city centre Victorian jails are to disappear under plans to open nine new prisons in England and Wales, with five due by 2020 as part of a £1bn construction programme. Selling such sites – which include prisons in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool – could yield an estimated 3,000 new residential properties.

Approximately 10,000 inmates would be moved to the new jails as part of the scheme, saving around £80m per year in running costs.

More details are expected to emerge in the chancellor’s spending review, due alongside the Autumn Statement on 25 November.

It is thought the new HMP Oakwood prison near Wolverhampton may provide a template to approaching the builds. At the Midlands site, BIM and other modern construction methods were used, leading to a £5m saving.

Adam Davis, a Palmers partner who specialises in construction matters, said: “The emergence of new projects is consistent with recent data that shows the South East and London remain at the heart of Britain’s construction activity.

“While the economic picture is still not entirely clear, constructions firms will now perhaps be thinking positively about the future and projects coming their way. But those with growth ambitions should not enter into the next phase of their strategic planning without seeking the advice of experts in the field, forging a partnership now to address the issues of the coming years. For details on our services, please contact us.”