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Debate resumes over Coltishall prison

PUBLISHED: 11:21 19 January 2009 | UPDATED: 09:21 13 July 2010

A long running attempt to build a prison at the former RAF Coltishall airbase will return to the debating chamber this week.

The prison was given permission last summer, but this had to be dismissed because mistakes were made in the decision making process.

A long running attempt to build a prison at the former RAF Coltishall airbase will return to the debating chamber this week.

The prison was given permission last summer, but this had to be dismissed because mistakes were made in the decision making process.

This second bid looks likely to succeed as it is effectively the same plan with some extra tweaks and new documentation designed to overcome the procedural problems last year.

Members of North Norfolk District Council's east development control committee will discuss the plan on Thursday, with council officers recommending they give it approval.

The 500-strong category C prison would be a combination of conversion of former airmen's quarters and some new build, all carried out on a relatively small part of the former base.

The committee will hear a number of arguments both for and against the prison. The Ministry of Justice claims it is necessary to tackle a national lack of prison places and will also bring millions of pounds into the local economy.

Objectors feel the need for prison places is not in north Norfolk but elsewhere and that using a base with such a fine service tradition is inappropriate.

There have also been long running concerns from senior staff and governors at the adjoining Douglas Bader Centre, a pupil referral unit which helps ill, vulnerable and troubled youngsters. They feel that having a prison next door will be potentially damaging to the youngsters' welfare.

During the planning process last year, major concerns about the felling of more than 150 trees to make way for the prison saw the ministry offer to create three areas of new landscaping. These include a 12-hectare community woodland and a memorial garden in memory of six airmen who lost their lives in an early 1980s coach crash while serving at RAF Coltishall.


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