Kier and Wates are to deliver prison upgrade works at six separate sites in a government contract worth £500m.
The firms, which were chosen by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), will lead an alliance of hundreds of small businesses in constructing extra houseblocks at half a dozen prisons that will accommodate more than 2,600 people.
State-of-the-art workshops will also be built at the six locations – HMP’s Bullingdon, Channings Wood, Elmley, Highpoint, Hindley and Wayland.
It is estimated that the construction of the houseblocks and refurbishment works will generate more than 2,000 jobs in the construction phase.
The work is part of the government’s Accelerated Houseblock Development Programme (AHDP), which aims to boost prison capacity and reduce reoffending.
New houseblocks will include X-shaped buildings with wider landings to increase the visibility of multiple wings to help officers. It will be easier to access supporting facilities, such as additional healthcare and kitchens, according to the government.
Work to build the new blocks will be offered to prisoners through Kier’s Making Ground initiative, which provides temporary licence jobs in the construction industry. More than 100 serving prisoners and prison leavers have taken part in the programme to date.
Kier group managing director Liam Cummins said: “We are excited to be combining our national, custodial expertise with our strong, regional delivery capability to unlock value for the MoJ, both at strategic programme and local delivery levels.
“As a project integrator, we look forward to continuing to drive forward the high standards we have set in using modern methods of construction, including innovation, technology and pushing the boundaries of Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA).
“We will also continue our commitment to supporting prisoner rehabilitation through the extensive use of Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) through our Making Ground programme.”
Wates executive managing director Paul Chandler added: “Drawing on the expertise of our in-house engineering and offsite manufacturing specialists, we will be working closely with our Alliance partners to deliver greener, more operationally-efficient buildings that support the MoJ’s net-zero ambitions by 2040.
“Not only this, but our focus will be on creating environments that boost staff and prisoner wellbeing, and encourage better rehabilitation outcomes for the people that these buildings serve in the long term.”
The projects are part of the government’s £4bn investment to create 20,000 modern places at prisons across the country. Earlier this year, Whitehall announced new houseblocks at HMP’s Stocken and Guys Marsh.
Construction of a brand new workshop is already under way at HMP High Down, Surrey.
Prisons minister Victoria Atkins said: “The government is delivering on its vision for a modern prison estate that places security and rehabilitation at the heart of its design.
“This will boost public safety by giving offenders every opportunity to turn away from a life of crime and towards a future of gainful employment.
“These houseblocks are also great news for the local firms who will play a central role in constructing them, along with the communities who benefit from the jobs that will be created at the prisons.”