PLANS to build two large prisons in mid Essex woud create more than 1,200 jobs, according to government bosses

The Ministry of Justice has unveiled major plans for two prisons in Wethersfield.

It has sent out letters to residents informing them of plans to build the facilities at the RAF Wethersfield air base.

The government body says the prisons, which would be built alongside each other, would each hold about 1,715 male prisoners.

Construction work could begin as soon as 2023 if the proposals get the go-ahead.

The move is part of a bid to expand the number of available prison spaces by 18,000 by the mid-2020s.

Each prison would have seven separate blocks and each block would have have four floors, with around 60 prisoners on each floor, making a total of 240 prisoners in each block. 

In a letter to residents, the Ministry of Justice claims the bid will benefit the area with millions in investment while creating thousands of jobs.

The letter says: “The Ministry of Justice is committed to tackling crime and keeping communities safer. 

“Against this background, we have reviewed prison places across the country and are in the process of identifying potential locations for new prisons to meet anticipated future demand.

“Two new prisons in Wethersfield would contribute over £70million to the local economy and create new jobs, while providing safe, secure and decent prison places. 

“We want to engage with you and your local community to ensure your views are considered and to share with you the benefits that the proposed new prisons could bring to the area, such as creating over 1,200 new jobs working in the new prisons in a wide range of roles. 

“Should the proposals go ahead, in addition to providing construction apprenticeships and work placements, a minimum of 25 per cent of the project spend would be within the local area, and a minimum of 30 per cent would be spent with small and medium enterprises. 

“For example, at our prison currently under construction at Glen Parva, we have so far spent over £59million locally within 25 miles of the site, and the target spend is £71million, 

“At the same site, we have so far spent £16million with small and medium enterprises with a target spend of £85.8million.

“We know that you may have views and questions about new prisons being built in your area and during the consultation we want to understand and address any concerns you may have. 

“It is important that we receive your feedback before deciding whether to take our proposals forward to a planning application.”

A consultation is now open for residents to take part in, with events scheduled to take place in October.

There will be virtual Zoom meetings on October 14 at 7pm and on October 15 at 1pm.

There will also be exhibitions from 3pm to 8pm at Finchingfield Guild Hall on October 20 and at Wethersfield Village Hall on October 21.

Proposals for the site can be found here.