50% expansion planned for HMP Highpoint as part of Ministry of Justice drive to create thousands of new prison places
The number of prisoners at HMP Highpoint could rise by more than half, as the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) rolls out a nationwide initiative to expand and modernise prisons over the coming years.
In December last year, proposals were submitted to West Suffolk Council to build three new blocks at the prison, which currently houses 1,259 inmates.
The new four-storey blocks would include up to 741 new cells, and the planning application also provided for a new kitchen, pharmacy, workshop and other amenity spaces.
The plans have yet to be approved, but the expansion has been contracted to Kier and Wates as part of a UK-wide scheme.
Aside from Highpoint, the firm will oversee works to expand five other prisons, assisted by hundreds of small businesses.
The programme will cost approximately £500m, and will provide for thousands of new prison places.
Announcing the MoJ initiative, Prisons Minister Victoria Atkins MP said: "The Government is delivering on its vision for a modern prison estate that places security and rehabilitation at the heart of its design.
"This will boost public safety by giving offenders every opportunity to turn away from a life of crime and towards a future of gainful employment.
"These houseblocks are also great news for the local firms who will play a central role in constructing them, along with the communities who benefit from the jobs that will be created at the prisons."
Over 2,000 jobs will be created by the various construction projects, including in the Suffolk area.
In addition, new facilities at the expanded prisons will generate 750 roles for inmates.
However, the Highpoint plans have run into significant opposition.
As of May, Haverhill Town Council has registered its objection, suggesting that the height of the expanded blocks, coupled with increased traffic from staff, would have a negative impact on nearby residents.