Lend Lease chosen to build Wrexham super-prison

Artist's impression of the super prison The super prison is expected to create up to 1,000 jobs in Wrexham

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Hundreds of jobs are on their way to Wrexham following the announcement that Lend Lease will build a £212m super prison on the outskirts of the town.

Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said the project would be a "massive boost" for the local economy with half of the jobs available going to local people.

Work is expected to start in August, creating up to 1,000 jobs, and the prison is due to open in late 2017.

It will house 2,100 inmates, making it the largest prison in the UK.

The overall project spend is lower than the original £250m estimate and the construction will involve local business and enterprises, with 100 apprenticeships created.

Mr Wright said the prison, which will be the first in north Wales, would be a significant boost to the prison estate and would hold offenders closer to home and help prevent reoffending.

Australian based building giant Lend Lease was one of four companies bidding for the £151m construction part of the super prison contract.

The UK government's Welsh Secretary, David Jones, said the prison would be a "huge boost" for the local economy.

Minister welcomes prison development

Aled Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for north Wales said the prison would be a much-needed boost to the community.

"Our region needs a prison as it's simply not right that families from north Wales have had to travel such long distances to visit family members.

"The emotional and financial strain put on these families is simply unacceptable," he said.

It is believed about 760 staff positions will be created to run the prison, and officials have said it will boost the local economy by £23m a year.

'Scepticism'

But a review carried out for independent think-tank the Institute of Welsh Affairs claimed that the prison might not deliver the promised jobs and could damage the local economy.

The Ministry of Justice dismissed the claims and said it was replacing "older, inefficient" buildings.

The review also said that potential benefits for Welsh prisoners should be treated with "scepticism" and that only a quarter of the prison's population might end up being from Wales.

Plaid Cymru have also criticised Friday's announcement, claiming the region would not benefit.

"Only half the labour will be recruited locally, with local defined as a one hour commute," stated north Wales Plaid AM, Llyr Gruffydd.

"What we have here is a large multi-national Australian firm winning the contract and creaming the profits."

Outline planning permission for the prison has already been granted.

The proposals include three four-storey house blocks up to 59ft (18m) in height.

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