Residents of Leyland village fight against plans for third prison that could see inmates allowed out on day release and cause parking chaos

Leyland villagers in Ulnes Walton have just weeks left to file their final objections against a new Category C 'super prison' set to be built just behind their back gardens.

By James Holt
Thursday, 21st October 2021, 12:24 pm

Residents in the village of Ulnes Walton say they have managed to 'live in harmony' with the two existing prisons already beside their homes, but are now fighting against controversial plans to build a third Category C prison.

They fear that if the blueprints are given the green light, the population of prisoners will overrun the number of residents living in the village.

The proposed plans submitted to Chorley Council by the Ministry of Justice are for a brand new Category C prison to be built on the green land adjacent to the two existing countryside prisons in the village - HMP Garth and HMP Wymott, just off Moss Lane.

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But residents, who have been living with the existing two prison sites for decades, have spoken out in anger about the plans over their serious traffic, parking and environmental worries that the 75,000 square foot development could bring.

And the outraged locals have raised further concerns about the safety of their young children, many of which rely on public transport to get to and from school, as the prison could potentially let criminals out on day release to travel to work.

The plans outline that as part of the Ministry of Justice's new prison plan for Category C prisons, some inmates "may be released on a temporary license to go to work".

The proposed site was earmarked by the Ministry of Justice to create a new 'super prison', able to hold 1,715 prisoners, bring 700 new jobs to the area and will include the development of a 525 space car park within the site if plans are given the go-ahead later next month.

Residents are concerned about the plans to build a super jail behind their homes

But should plans be accepted by planning officers in November, it has the potential to bring the total prisoner population of Ulnes Walton to more 3,500 - overrunning the estimated 2,672 people living in the village.

It will also mean the popular bowling green and clubhouse used by many locally will be demolished and moved to a new location.

Residents are now fighting back, with more than 50 objections lodged to the council and various groups and petitions started online in a bid to curb the development.

Chloe Sandilands-Watson, who lives on Glovers Close, has set up a petition online, encouraging disgruntled locals to submit their objections to the controversial plans before a decision is made by planning officers next month.

The Ministry of Justice have submitted plans to the council for consideration at the remote site

There was a public consultation held earlier this year, where many residents said they would feel like 'prisoners in their own homes' if plans went ahead.

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She said: "A lot of people have said that we already chose to live next to two prisons so we knew what we were getting into, but that is just ridiculous. None of us expected this.

"The plans show four-storey buildings which will be above the tree line, possibly allowing prisoners to view the estate and families that live there, as well as being an eyesore for us all.

The proposed plans including a car park with more than 500 spaces which will creep on to the estate

"The traffic from the prison will affect Croston, Leyland, Eccleston, Bretherton and Chorley as workers come from afar. Our roads are not built to deal with such an increase in traffic and it will be such a challenge for people living in the area who need to go to and from work.

"The traffic in the area is already heavy, so with 700 new staff and then more prisoner visiting times for thousands of new inmates, it really will become unbearable.

"The plan includes building on land used by local residents for leisure and recreation, with this being removed it will make the community even more cut off.

"Another issue is the parking situation, with the plans for a new car park entrance on the estate. This will lead to further traffic and parking issues with current speed restrictions in the area not being abided by and cars double parking on the estate already.

"We feel like these plans just came out of the blue and nobody expected it. We fear we are going to be completely overrun by prisoners. We are not just a rural village with nothing going on, there are families here and a community who all look out for each other.

"I hope the council considers taking this to a further consultation so that the views from residents can really be heard. This will creep on to our estate more than the other two prisons and impact the whole community."

Residents are fighting back against the plans

Another local resident, Emma Curtis, set up the Facebook group 'Action Against Wymott and Garth 3rd Prison' which has since amassed over 200 concerned members.

The proposed car park will be directly opposite her driveway if it goes ahead.

She said: "The council is still accepting objections, so we are encouraging everyone to get them in as soon as they can. There are over 100 documents in this application and it is extremely worrying.

"The plans will completely strip away our vegetation and trees and will include major development on green belt land close to all our homes. The development will be just devastating for the environment and the area.

"Our main concerns are that there will be thousands more car journeys every day coming onto our quiet roads and there won't be enough spaces in the car park so visitors and staff will end up dumping their cars outside our homes.

"Families won't want to walk on the roads with their children or prams with prams and it will create so many problems for us all. The development on green land will mean the area will be even worse for flooding than it already is.

"And there is a serious concern for the safety of families, especially with prisoners being allowed out on day release. There are so many families and elderly people that live round here, it is just wrong."

According to the council, there has been a 'significant' number of objections made to the proposed prison plans, including more than 50 made online.

In the initial planning application, following a pre-application consultation with the Council, it outlined that the green belt land was deemed 'inappropriate', and raised concerns over the closeness to homes and the demolition of the bowling green, used for recreation by residents.

Councillor Alistair Morwood, Executive Member of Chorley Council (Planning & Development), said any comments should be made before October 29 to ensure they are considered as part of the decision process.

He said: “We are aware that a public consultation was held during the summer by the applicant, the Ministry of Justice, ahead of them submitting a planning application for construction of a new prison in Ulnes Walton, Leyland.

"As with all planning applications, we made people aware of the application so that residents can make comments should they wish – we do this by sending letters, putting up a site notice, and publicising the application in the local press.

"Information on the application can be viewed and comments can be made on our website. Any comments should be made before October 29 to ensure that they are considered, although we will accept comments that are submitted after this date before the point of decision.

"The application will be presented to the Planning Committee at a future meeting who will discuss the merits and concerns before making a decision.”

South Ribble MP Katherine Fletcher said: "I have been contacted by a number of South Ribble residents, who have raised genuine questions and comments with me about the proposal to build a new prison.

"Earlier this month, I met with the Minister, Victoria Atkins, and discussed the points that residents have raised with me, to make sure that their voice is heard at the highest level.

"It is my job, as the local MP, to represent residents, and that includes listening, and making local views known to decision-makers."

The Ministry of Justice was contacted for a comment and confirmed that the feedback from the public consultation was currently being analysed. See more HERE.