Runwell Prison Plans

It was announced on the BBC Breakfast show today that there are plans to build a new prison in Runwell, near Wickford in Essex.

Planning permission is to be sought to build the new prison on land surrounding the site of a mental hospital. Planning permission has not been given yet. In 2006 permission was given to build new homes on the site.

The government needs to increase its prison capacity to reduce overcrowding that has been plaguing Britain’s prisons for years now. The Runwell Prison will be a category B prison and hold 1000 to 1500 inmates, many possibly serving life sentences.

The prison will create 800 new local jobs and boost the local economy by around £17 million.

The Ministry of Justice will be seeking outline planning permission for the new prison soon and we want to hear local views and discuss upcoming issues around the proposed development.

The plans are on show at the Runwell Hospital Sports and Social Club until Thursday 5th November and then at Christ Church in Wickford on Saturday 7th November.

Map of the proposed access to the Runwell prison site.

Runwell Prison Site
Runwell Prison Site

For further information about the public exhibitions or meetings please contact the Ministry of Justice on email: [email protected]

One Comment on “Runwell Prison Plans”

  1. I am not opposed to another prison in the Chelmsford area but it must be built in the right place.
    (a) Government guidelines state that prisons should be built on “Brownfield sites” such as the more suitable Temple Mills industrial estate, which i understand would not be opposed by Chelmsford Borough Council.
    The Runwell site would swallow up a vast area of “Green Belt” land which goes directly against the guidelines.
    (b) Statutory Government requirements for major projects, like a 1500 inmate category ‘B’ prison twice the size of Buckingham Palace, are built on a site with excellent Public Transport links in order to discourage car use. Runwell is served by a bus that runs just 5 times per weekday, 4 times on Saturday, and does not run at all on Sunday. In the planning application the Ministry of Justice has documented the fact that only 2% (10 people spread over 12 hours) would use the bus. Even less (1%) would use the train because this would entail a 5.6 Km walk from station to prison and back by foot.

    It is now proposed that the access road to the prison will no longer be on to the dual A130 carriageway but will enter and leave via the already congested A132 Runwell road. From information submitted by the Ministry of Justice it can be estimated that 2,500 vehicles per day of extra traffic will be generated on the single lane A132 Runwell road and the large majority, a minimum 60%, will pass through the small town of Wickford towards the A127 trunk road. Ministry figures show that accidents on one stretch of the A132 (Runwell road) have increased year on year, as has the severity of injuries incurred, including one recent fatality.

    So, why do the Ministry of Justice planning team choose to go against statutory and local planning guidelines by choosing the green belt Runwell site, where the Public Transport links are abysmal.
    The simple truth is that another government department already owns the site and a deal can be done to transfer the land to the Ministry of Justice. That reason is not good enough when there are much more suitable sites available in the area.
    A prison should be built in the right place and that is not Runwell.

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