The proposed Grafton correctional centre, according to an Infrastructure NSW-prepared report, will be located on a relatively flat 195 hectare site, which will “minimise future site works and associated costs”.
The site, which is approximately 12.5km from Grafton, was zoned as RU2 Rural Landscape under the Clarence Valley Local Environmental Plan 2011, which allows the construction of correctional centres among infrastructures that require consent.
The site contains no known Aboriginal or European heritage and is located near existing services; it is “within 3.5 km to existing water main to the north”.
It is near the Grafton airport, “requires relatively little removal of existing vegetation and is not classified as bushfire prone or affected by flooding”.
The government has “established a high level inter-agency steering committee consisting of Department of Justice, Treasury, Department of Premier and Cabinet, and Infrastructure NSW to oversee the key milestones and delivery of the project”.
Infrastructure NSW undertook “targeted consultation with key government agencies and Clarence Valley Council as part of the site selection process … [and] will undertake further detailed consultation with the community and other key stakeholders during the State Significant Development process”.
The concept proposal document says the development will consist of the following:
• A new 600 cell correctional centre at Grafton for male and female inmates with a surge capacity of an additional 400 beds to accommodate up to 1,000 inmates, including: 350 secure beds for male inmates, 50 secure beds for female inmates, and 200 residential security beds for male inmates;
• Internal access and car park for approx 500 car spaces;
• Other associated facilities include recreational oval, special accommodation units, administration, workshops, staff amenities, visits facilities, access, parking and utilities.
The stage 1 early works development application (DA) will involve biodiversity management, external road upgrade and access works, provision of essential infrastructure and services and other preparatory work for an ultimate site capacity of 1,700 beds.
Employment estimates are 250-420 jobs [operational] and 275 jobs [construction].
A construction period of up to 24 months is expected to commence in mid 2017, subject to relevant planning and other statutory approvals being completed.
“The proposed construction program will need to consider and be coordinated with other major infrastructure projects in the vicinity”, the proposal document states, “namely the Pacific Highway upgrade project, [which will mark the property’s southern boundary], the Grafton Bridge project; and the Grafton Base Hospital upgrade.”
Historically, the site has been used for cattle grazing and flood relief.
The site is bounded by Avenue Road to the east, a local road that leads north to the Pacific Highway and connections across the Clarence River.
“As part of that project, Avenue Road will pass under the Pacific Highway and the intersection of Avenue Road and Old Six Mile Road will be upgraded to improve local access, without direct connection to the highway,” the proposal document states.