The Victorian state government’s Chisholm Road prison project in Lara is set to commence later this year, with a preferred builder being announced in the coming weeks.
While it was believed John Holland Group were in the running, the state government later asked construction and infrastructure giant Lendlease for building and fit out pricing, leading to speculation that a bidding war could lower construction costs.
The new lock-up will be the state’s largest maximum security prison. It forms the main part of a $1.8 billion dollar prisons upgrade project across the state.
The new prison will be situated in the regional Victorian town of Lara and is expected to house 1,248 beds. Its total area will cover 60.33 hectares, the equivalent of about 90 football fields.
Originally planned as a 700-bed prison, with an option to expand in the long term, the Chisholm Road prison project has since been ramped up to accommodate Victoria’s growing prison population, leading to the current giant supermax option.
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The increase in spending in Victorian prisons includes a $237 million upgrade of the Ravenhall women’s prison in western Melbourne.
The opposition’s corrections spokesman, David Southwick, has criticised this Andrews government project and called for a lowering in spending on Victorian prisons.
“The Andrews Labor Government has so far budgeted approximately $1 million per bed for the Chisholm Road prison,” stated Mr Southwick.
“This contrasts to the recently completed maximum security Macquarie and Cessnock Correctional Centres in NSW, which were built at a cost of approximately $500,000 per bed – half the cost of Labor’s new prison.”
The state government has already contracted Melbourne-based Guymer Bailey Architects for the prison design, which includes timber frames and concrete slabs as building elements.
The new lock up will sit close to Lara’s existing Barwon Prison, just a short drive from Geelong.
Construction is scheduled to begin later this year.
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