Deal al­most sealed for new prison next to re­tail park

Land talks pro­gress­ing on £66m jail to re­place Porter­field

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - News - BY CALUM ROSS

A deal that would pave the way for a £66mil­lion jail next to the big­gest re­tail park in In­ver­ness is on the brink of be­ing struck.

Land ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the Scot­tish Prison Ser­vice (SPS) and landowner Ha­zle­dene In­ver­ness are un­der­stood to be close to con­clu­sion.

The Press and Jour­nal re­vealed in June last year that prison bosses were as­sess­ing a site pro­posed for the city’s new jail be­hind Home­base at the south­west­ern end of In­ver­ness Shop­ping Park.

The bound­ary to the west of the site is a rail track and in the north is the Stoney­field Busi­ness Park.

The SPS turned to the newsite af­ter a com­mu­nity cam­paign forced it to aban­don plans to lo­cate the re­place­ment for Porter­field Prison at Mil­ton of Leys to the south of the city.

Asource close to the talks said last night: “We’re hop­ing to con­clude ne­go­ti­a­tions around that site shortly”.

Ha­zle­dene In­ver­ness owns both the Mil­ton of Leys site and the al­ter­na­tive lo­ca­tion.

It also owns the 200-acre Strat­ton site, which bor­ders Smith­ton and Cul­lo­den, and has been ear­marked for an 1,800-home de­vel­op­ment.

Sources close to the landowner dis­missed claims that the prison could be built at Strat­ton, say­ing: “There has never been any sug­ges­tion of the prison go­ing to Strat­ton. There is no chance of the prison go­ing to Strat­ton.”

The new pro­posed prison site was pre­vi­ously sug­gested for a £40mil­lion ex­pan­sion of the re­tail park, and per­mis­sion was granted for a bridge over the rail­way to link the UHI Cam­pus to the re­tail park.

If it is built by the re­tail park, visi­tors and staff at the new prison could ac­cess the site from a newrail sta­tion be­ing con­sid­ered to serve the shops, UHI cam­pus and Stoney­field Busi­ness Park.

The move comes as the Scot­tish Courts and Tri­bunal Ser­vice pro­gresses with plans for a new £23mil­lion “jus­tice cen­tre” off Long­man Road on the site of a for­mer bus de­pot.

As well as hous­ing the new sher­iff court it will pro­vide spe­cial­ist fa­cil­i­ties for vic­tims and wit­nesses.

“There is no chance of the prison go­ing to Strat­ton”

Pho­to­graph: Sandy McCook

RIGHT SITE? The area of ground close to In­ver­ness Busi­ness and Re­tail Park and the UHI Cam­pus pro­posed for the new prison.

A new £23m ‘jus­tice cen­tre’ is planned for a site off Long­man Road

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