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The NSW Government is investing $3.8 billion in new and upgraded correctional centres across the State. This includes a new centre at Grafton and major upgrades to existing facilities at Bathurst, Junee, Kempsey, Nowra and Wellington.
Housing inmates closer to their home town helps them to maintain family connections – a key factor in reducing reoffending – and reduces the cost and risks associated with inmate transport to court. With Sydneysiders making up 63 per cent of the inmate population, more capacity is also needed in metropolitan NSW.
Research conducted in NSW and elsewhere shows that, in general, new correctional centres do not lead to an increase in local crime rates.
Many residential suburbs are adjacent to correctional centres, including Bathurst, Berkshire Park, Cessnock, Malabar, Newington and Parklea. It is difficult to isolate the effect of a correctional centre on property prices in the surrounding area. Prices reflect a range of factors, including the quality of housing stock, access to jobs and services, and broader market conditions.
No parcel of land is entirely free of environmental constraints. We needed to better understand the constraints that apply to this site in order to determine whether they significantly impair its suitability for a correctional centre.
Correctional centres need large setbacks from the property boundary – to maintain security and, in some areas, to protect against bushfires. Buffer zones are also needed around areas of environmental or heritage significance.
CSNSW focused its investigations on the parts of the site that are not flood-prone. However, once appropriate setbacks were provided around roadways and riparian protected vegetation, the amount of contiguous space available for a correctional facility was insufficient to efficiently meet operational needs.
We have provided the results of our investigations to the owners of the land to assist them in determining the future use of the site.