First look at new £170 million Glen Parva prison ahead of key Blaby council meeting

Source: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/council-set-to-approve-170-million-plans-for-bigger-prison-at-glen-parva/story-30346326-detail/story.html

Plans for a new £170 million prison to replace Glen Parva’s aging jail look set to be approved.

Planning officers at Blaby District Council have recommended councillors approve the demolition of the former 1970s-built borstal and the construction a new Class C complex when they discuss the scheme on Thursday.

The Ministry of Justice has begun the process of transferring some 500 prisoners to other jails in anticipation of the plans being approved.

Government officials want a jail to accommodate 1,617 inmates where 809 staff will work within the boundaries of the existing complex.

It will be surrounded by security fences up to 5.5 metres high and will include modern cell blocks, a learning centre, and workshops.

The council’s planning officers say they are content the proposals meet their rules but there have been 67 letters of objection to the project.

Residents of nearby Westleigh Road, Queen’s Park Way have raised concerns they will be overlooked by the new cells.

Similar concerns have been expressed by Rolleston Primary School.

Neighbours are also worried about noise from the increased numbers of inmates and say that their cells should be located further towards the centre of the grounds.

There are also worries over the ability of nearby roads to cope with the added congestion because of the enlarged complex.

The complex sits on the Blaby district/Leicester City border and Leicester’s deputy mayor Rory Palmer and his fellow Eyres Monsell councillor Virginia Cleaver have written to the planner.

They say: “The height of the proposed accommodation blocks in the south west corner of the prison site and which are close to the boundary of the site.

“Residents are concerned about the possibility of over-looking from these blocks into their street and properties.

“Clarity and confirmation is required from the applicant that this will not be possible because of the orientation of the blocks.

“The assumption that there will be no windows facing the site boundary and that those windows in these blocks will be specialist glass preventing prisoners from looking outwards.

“Residents are also concerned about the close distance of the proposed accommodation blocks to the site boundary.

“One particular concern is about noise. There are currently instances of loud noise from the jail which carries towards homes in Eyres Monsell.

“Similarly residents are concerned about possible light pollution from any lighting along the site perimeter.

“We would ask that the committee explores this issue and considers if there might be a light pollution problem arising from the proposed development.”

It is intended to clear the site of the old buildings by late summer this year, start building in early 2018 and have the new prison fully operational by early 2020.