Prison expansion proposed

The Department of Corrections is seeking to increase capacity at Waikeria Prison in the Waikato, to meet the rising demand for prisoner places

In April this year, Boffa Miskell lodged a Notice of Requirement to amend the prison’s designation in the Otorohanga District Plan to allow for up to 3000 prisoners to be accommodated on the site, rather than the existing designated maximum of 1250.

The existing prison facilities on the 1200-hectare rural site currently accommodate around 650 inmates. The proposed designation would enable a new men’s facility to be built with capacity for 2000 prisoners and provide for reserve capacity of 350 more prisoners, should the need arise in future. It would also allow for new training and education facilities to be built for prisoners’ rehabilitation, to help achieve the Department’s objective of reducing re-offending.

The new facility will be provided through a public private partnership by which the Department will contract out the design, construction and maintenance. The Department will operate both the existing facilities and the new facility. The procurement process for setting up the partnership will conclude in early 2018, at which time a design for the new facility will be agreed.

Our planners are managing the application process for the Department including the assessment of environmental effects that accompanies the Notice of Requirement. Assessing the potential effects was challenging, given the proposed facility has not yet been designed but, to overcome this difficulty, a set of design parameters were produced to outline what can be constructed within the defined building zone – the same approach that Boffa Miskell took in assisting the Department to gain approval for Auckland South Corrections Facility (Wiri Men’s Prison in Auckland). The potential effects of the additional proposed facilities, built within the design parameters, have been assessed by technical specialists, including our ecologists and landscape planners, along with other social, cultural, traffic, external lighting, economic, noise and archaeological experts.

The designation amendment has been referred directly to the Environment Court and a decision is expected in early 2018, following hearings in October.

For further information please contact Sharon Dines

30 May 2017