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Modern Methods of Construction are again making the news, and for all the right reasons. Modular construction is a strategy that is ideally suited to volumetric builds and incorporating energy efficiency innovations so it is of little surprise that a hybrid modular construction solution was selected by construction firm Mace when they were appointed as the delivery partner for the Ministry of Justice's new £286M prison, HMP Fosse Way.

Replacing former HMP site Glen Parva which closed in 2017, this new state of the art development will house in excess of 1,700 inmates and includes 86 meeting rooms which will be used for prayer, fitness, and to support prisoners in learning new skills and acquiring the vital competencies that will allow them to seek meaningful work opportunities when they are released at the end of their sentences.

Building for the future

HMP Fosse Way was developed using advanced Building Information Modelling techniques in order to accelerate delivery of the build, whilst maintaining the highest quality standards and a rigorous adherence to cost control. 12,701 pre-cast panels were created off-site, along with 1,764 underfloor heating mats which were incorporated into the floor panels. 

Once delivered to site, these panels were installed in a rapid turnaround, resulting in 231 modern and attractive prefabricated four-storey buildings which make up the new prison site. Focusing on future-readiness, the building incorporates energy saving measures such as air source heat pumps, which will generate much of the structure's heating requirements, acting as both a long-term cost-saving measure and also promoting the Ministry of Justice's desire to contribute to carbon efficiencies.

Local people, local jobs, local benefits

The building of HMP Fosse Way has benefited the local community in a number of ways. Since breaking ground in 2020, it has provided job security for local residents, and up to 68% of the cost of the project is reported to have been spent with businesses that are situated within 50 miles of the site. 

The project even employed 70 former prisoners as part of its construction workforce, in a pleasing twist of fate, allowing them to gain valuable life skills and participate in targeted rehabilitation through the construction of this new prison facility.

HMP Fosse Way, once fully operational, will offer over 600 permanent roles within its workforce, with 33% of its staff expected to be employed from within a 25 mile radius of the site. Roles within the workforce will include prison officers, healthcare professionals, educational facilitators and administration personnel. This is on top of the 400 plus construction jobs that were created as a result of the build.

New Prisons Programme

The Ministry of Justice and HM Prison and Probation Service believe that over the coming years, there will be an increased requirement to house offenders and that it is necessary to create new prisons in order to satisfy the demand. Their reasoning is twofold:

1. The courts system is beginning to catch up with the COVID-imposed backlog and will likely result in the incarceration of more offenders than has been the norm over recent years.

2. The Prime Minister has announced his commitment to recruiting 20,000 additional police officers, and this increased ability to respond to the needs of the public is likely to result in a greater number of incarcerations over the coming years.

In total, six new prisons are expected to be built, all adhering to the same principles of modern, future-proofed facilities which will educate and support prisoners to turn their lives around, reduce the risk of re-offending and guide them in becoming valued members of society when they are released.

In addition to HMP Fosse Way, HMP Five Wells in Northamptonshire is already operational, and work will shortly begin at HMP Full Sutton in East Yorkshire. Consultations are underway to develop a site in Market Harborough, and work is ongoing to identify two other suitable locations.

The Ministry of Justice is committed to future-proof, energy efficient, green prisons that will blend into the communities in which they are located. Modern Methods of Construction will be employed for all developments with the aim of reusing 95% of generated waste to minimise landfill requirements, and off-site construction will be utilised effectively to minimise noise, vibration, air and light pollution to levels that are as low as reasonably practicable during the entirety of the build phase.

In conclusion

HMP Fosse Way is an excellent demonstration of the results that can be achieved through volumetric modular construction, and with the Ministry of Justice committed to this repeatable process, it is likely that all future prisons that are constructed in the UK will also utilise these, or similar, methods of construction.

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