The huge jail in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, which has just had its topping out ceremony, will hold 1,680 inmates, making it England’s biggest prison. Some inmates at the new-style £253 million super prison will have unobstructed views from their cells over the beautiful River Nene and a fishing lake.
The landscaped grounds will also include a horticultural area and four football pitches, where prisoners can exercise. The jail designers have ditched the usual K-shaped formation of prison housing blocks and instead used seven staggered cross-shaped buildings. The K-block style has been favoured since Victorian times, with the idea that a single prison officer could be placed in the centre of the radial arms of corridors and survey all the cells quickly.
The new cross-shaped buildings mean the corridors are broken up into smaller zones, rather than miles of long corridors, which will enable prison staff to have more direct contact with prisoners. The buildings have been arranged around landscaped courtyards, with the cross-shaped design offering a better use of outside space for sports and gardening facilities. Bars have also been removed from the cell windows and there will be one central hub for education, vocational training and social facilities.
The category C jail is seen as a flagship example of the Government’s aim to create a “modern, efficient prison estate that is fit for the future.” It has been built on the site of the former HMP Wellingborough site, which closed in 2012, and held a maximum of 650 adult male inmates. The new prison is expected to open next year.