Take Action to Stop the New Mega Prison in Leicestershire

The situation: Leicester is set for a new Mega Prison which could have serious repercussions for local people, as well as those harmed by the prison system. Local Group, Leicester Prison Resistance, have asked for solidarity to help fight this development.

On this page you will find information about how to object to the planning application for Leicester Prison.

How to submit a planning objection

1. Visit: https://w3.blaby.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=OIKUB0CY00A00
2. You will find the application summary. Click “Make a comment.”
3. Fill in your details and submit your comment. You have a maximum of 1000 characters.

How to Find Background Information about the Prison

You can find all the planning documentation for HMP Glen Parva here: https://w3.blaby.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=OIKUB0CY00A00

Use the search function and enter the reference.

The Planning Application Reference is: Planning reference: 16/1672/OUT

You can also send questions to the Planning Department:

Email: planning@blaby.gov.uk
Telephone: 0116 272 7705

Potential Points to Make

Everyone will have different reasons for why they are concerned about having a new prison in their local area. For people that do not live locally, they may feel concerned about the harm the prison system causes and not want any more to be built anywhere.

This page aims to summarise some of the key points about the prison.

Click here to read about the ethical arguments against building a new prison.

Issues concerning the disregard for the Planning Process

  • The Public Exhibition held on the 1st and 2nd December 2016 at Eyres Monsell Community Centre was not sufficiently advertised and was a tokenistic endeavor. Only 284 households received letters advising of the event, and it was not advertised in any other way. There has been no adequate community consultation for a project of this scale. Only 38 people attended and only 9 comment forms were received within a local population of approximately 342,627. The prison will also have a significant impact on the region and should involve adequate consultation with communities across the region.
  • The planning application was allegedly validated on Fri 23 Dec 2016, over the Christmas period when people are less able to respond and object.
  • A member of Leicester Prison Resistance called the Planning Department at Oadby and Wigston Borough Council on the 12th January 2017 to see if and when the planning application would become live and open for objections. Their customer services desk spent 5 minutes checking and then told us they hadn’t received the application yet but knew it was on its way, and were expecting it “early in the year” but didn’t know exactly when. We demand to know exactly when the planning application appeared online, and that the period for objections be extended to allow for the necessary 8 weeks. This is disgraceful practice by the Council for a controversial project.
  • No alternative uses for the site have been explored by the Local Authority, nor has the community been consulted on alternative uses.
  • It is impossible for the local Planning Authority to approve this planning application, even at outline stage, when the number of buildings, their use and layout of the prison are not fixed.
  • More than doubling HMP Glen Parva’s capacity to 1617 prisoners is generative of a huge uptake of local resources and impact on local services. This has not been adequately assessed in any of the planning application documentation.
  • There is inadequate information about the workshops within the prison and their relationship to local companies and the local labour force. The size, scale and purpose of the workshops have not been disclosed and are essential to the decision making on the prison.
  • We believe too many matters have been left for the reserved matters stage, and the application should be re-submitted so that the Council can make an informed decision on the development in its entirety.

The Socio-Economic Impact Assessment

  • The Socio-Economic Impact Assessment says the prison would also result in “improved facilities being available to prisoners, supporting their effective rehabilitation and increased safety”. This is a bold statement that contradicts evidence on the effectiveness of prisons in either rehabilitating people, or increasing safety. We demand peer-reviewed evidence that justifies this statement.
  • The Socio-Economic Impact Assessment only includes references to data generated by the MOJ and not any other bodies (critical or otherwise). Therefore the report contains considerable confirmation bias. We demand a new assessment be undertaken by an impartial group of analysts.
  • When prisons disproportionately harm black and ethnic minority communities so significantly, a District Council whose district is 91% white should not be allowed to determine the decision of a new prison that will so significantly impact local people of colour.
  • “Deprivation” is explored in the assessment with only two sentences. There is no way, when prisons contribute and intersect so much with deprivation that this is a sufficient enough assessment of the impact of the new prison.
  • Point 4.20 of the Socio-Economic Impact Assessment report states that “It is likely that the number and/or capacity of local and regional community organisations would increase as a result of the prison’s greater capacity following the Proposed Development.” – Where is the evidence that the prison will not negatively impact on these local organisations in a climate of austerity and cuts?

Impact on Local Services

  • The planning documentation does not adequately assess the impact of the prison on the local ambulance service. HMP Oakwood, which is a similar size to the proposed new prison had more than 358 calls to the ambulance service in 2014 alone. (1)
  • The planning documentation does not adequately assess the impact of the prison on the local police force. Data produced by North Wales Police estimates that “Based on the available data, incident and crime prediction work has been undertaken and current estimates put the police staffing costs at £147,000 per annum with £52,500 capital costs in year one and £21,000 per annum associated revenue costs thereafter.”(2)
  • The socio-economic impact assessment is completely inadequate. It does not adequately assess or analyse the impact of the prison on local services. Data must be provided on the new prison’s impact on mental health services, the NHS, local housing, social care and other welfare services.

Jobs & Economics

  • The planning documentation states there will be “workshop buildings”. More information is required about the planned activities in these buildings and their impact on local people, especially if they involve the use of prison labour.
  • There is no detail in the application on how prison labour will impact on the availability of jobs to local people in Leicestershire and how jobs undertaken by prisons may take jobs away from people in the region. This creates a net-loss of jobs and contradicts the Strategic Objective “To provide the appropriate quantity, quality and mix of employment opportunities to meet the needs of the District’s current and future populations, and to meet strategic employment, education and training needs” of Policy C6 in Blaby District Local Plan.

Traffic and Environmental Impact

  • The demolition of the existing buildings and construction work will have a significant noise impact on local residents.
  • There will be a significant increase in foul water loading into the existing foul sewer drainage network.
  • Biomass boilers are incredibly inefficient and will contradict any carbon emission targets set by the Council.
  • Bats are a European Protected Species (EPS) and the new development poses significant harm to the local population.
  • Construction of the proposed development could result in a direct pollution impact, with run-off from construction activities entering the nearby Grand Union Canal LWS. This could result in the death of aquatic organisms and aquatic and terrestrial vegetation which could, in turn, disrupt a locally important habitat corridor. This would be a temporary, adverse impact on a feature of local importance, although the magnitude and duration would depend on the nature of the pollution incident. This could lead to a significant effect on the Grand Union Canal LWS.
  • Indirect impacts, such as dust and noise during construction, would be temporary and adverse and could result in a significant effect on local ecosystems.
  • The loss of the ponds on the site would also indirectly affect the animals that could use them as a foraging or refuging resource. This would be an adverse, permanent impact and has the potential to result in a significant effect.
  • Construction works could directly kill or injure hedgehogs present within the site. This would be a significant effect.
  • Habitat suitable for use by hedgehogs, such as the areas of woodland, would be removed during construction. This would be an indirect, adverse and permanent impact that could lead to a significant effect as the hedgehogs would be unable to survive without foraging or refuging locations.
  • Hedgehogs could also be disturbed by the noise and vibrations from the construction activities. This would be an indirect, temporary, adverse impact and could result in a significant effect as the hedgehogs would alter their behaviour to avoid areas where construction is in process.
  • During the construction works there is the potential for Japanese knotweed to be spread throughout and outside of the site. This can occur when vehicles trample the plants and deposit the vegetation elsewhere, Japanese knotweed can germinate from stem or root sections. Were this to occur then it would constitute an offence.
  • The proposed development has the potential to adversely impact roosting and commuting bats making use of the site. One of the buildings on site has been recorded as being used by a bat to roost. If this building was to be removed while bats are using it then it would result in a direct, adverse impact on a feature of site importance (this activity would constitute an offence).
  • The construction works could lead to disturbance of commuting and foraging bats through the introduction of new light sources into existing flyways and also as a result of associated noise. This would be an indirect, temporary, adverse impact and could lead to a significant effect as bats change their behaviour to avoid the site and have to expend more energy doing so.
  • The removal of habitats on site used by bats for commuting would result in an indirect, permanent, adverse impact on a feature of local importance. This would result in a significant effect as bats have to permanently alter their commuting routes, which would involve expending more energy, and could result in isolating bats from their foraging sites.
  • Construction works could directly kill or injure toads present within the site. This would be a significant effect. 
Habitat suitable for use by toads would be lost during construction. This would lead to a significant effect as the toads would be unable to survive without foraging or refuging locations. 
Toads could also be disturbed by the noise and vibrations from the construction activities. This would be a temporary, adverse impact and could result in a significant effect as the toads would alter their behaviour to avoid areas where construction is in process.

The prison poses unacceptable pollution risks including:

  • Piling, foundations and service trenches could create pathways through which contaminants may be allowed to mobilise and migrate post-development, impacting controlled waters, site users and off-site residents.
  • Ground gases and volatile vapours could enter proposed buildings and utilities infrastructure and present a potential health risk to site users.
  • Contamination of the water supply and drainage systems could occur from contaminated soils and groundwater.
  • Future site users could come into contact with localised shallow contaminants.

Blaby District Council Local Plan

Prisons do not feature once in the Blaby District Council Local Plan – this is a project imposed by the Ministry of Justice that is not in the best interests of people in Leicestershire.

The vision of the Core Strategy detailed in the Blaby District Council Local Plan is broken down below. It is very clear that allowing this development contradicts the Local Council’s vision for the local area:

  • Housing will be provided to meet the needs of the current and future communities of Blaby District. The mix of housing will better reflect the needs of the population of the District including an appropriate balance of house types, sizes and tenures and there will be greater provision of affordable homes to meet identified needs. A prison will create greater social housing pressure locally as prisoners are released into the local community. A new prison divests money from housing into the ineffective and harmful criminal justice system.
  • Blaby District will have a prosperous economy, where adequate provision is made for the employment needs of its residents and those who work in the District. A new prison will take jobs AWAY from the community, as those jobs are created in the prison workshops and not in the community. These will offset any gains of employment from new staff working in the prison.
  • The residents of Blaby District will enjoy a clean, attractive and safe environment, where new developments will be of a high quality and where the special character of the District’s natural and built environment will be protected and enhanced. A new mega prison in no way enhances the local environment.
  • Greater community facilities (including public open space and sports provision) will be provided to meet the needs of the population. The prison will divert and drain community resources.
  • There will be a comprehensive and connected network of Green Infrastructure where habitats will be protected and a variety of species will be encouraged to thrive. Access to the Countryside and open spaces will be enhanced particularly through a network of Green Wedges. The prison will cause ecological harm and habitat loss to not only species on the current site (bats, toads and hedgehogs most specifically), but will also harm local waterways through pollution.
  • The special character of the District’s natural, historic and built environment will be protected and where possible enhanced. This vision is not achieved by a new mega-prison.
  • Residents and visitors to the District will have a greater range of transport options to access services and facilities, where higher priority is given to walking, cycling and public transport than to the car. A huge prison will generate significant traffic and pressure on local public transport.
  • New and existing houses and commercial property will be more energy and water efficient, with waste production minimised. All developments will seek to minimise the risk of flooding. Opportunities for large and small scale renewable energy will be maximised. A huge prison will have a huge impact in terms of waste generation, water and energy use.

The Oadby and Winston Core Strategy

Policy 14 of The Oadby and Winston Core Strategy requires that developments promote biodiversity, minimise waste and energy consumption, conserve water resources and provide for renewable energy generation. The application for a new mega-prison meet none of this requirements, and actively contradict the needs of the local area.

1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25809660

2. http://www.cape-campaign.org/wrexham-prison-will-cost-north-wales-police-extra-147000-a-year/