Inmates from the UK’s largest prison could be used to help refurbish a Traveller site in Flintshire, it’s been revealed.
Discussions have been held between Flintshire Council and representatives from HMP Berwyn in Wrexham about the possiblity of prisoners working on building projects, including the construction of timber frame homes.
Another idea put forward was for men from the category C prison to be involved in the proposed renovation of the local authority-run Riverside Traveller site in Queensferry.
The potential collaboration was detailed in a report highlighting the council’s work to create more timber frame buildings in the county to meet the demand for housing.
Senior officers said the construction timescale involved was shorter than for traditional brick-built houses.
Neal Cockerton, Flintshire Council’s chief officer for housing and assets, said it was also hoped the partnership would ease community relations.
In the report, he said: “Flintshire has recently begun early dialogue around the principle of working with HMP Berwyn and a private sponsor to build timber frame buildings or pods for either existing projects or for the planned refurbishment of the Riverside Traveller site in Queensferry.
“The project could support affordable housing being built by the men at Berwyn so giving them realistic prospects of future employment and an emotional link to the programme as ultimately this could be their accommodation going forward.
“Working with Berwyn on the Riverside development may also break down any perceived barriers between the gypsy and traveller community, the settled community and men serving custodial sentence.
“This will embrace the principles around the Future Generations Act and the priorities for our local authority.”
Work recently began on a development where timber frames are being used to create 12 affordable apartments on land at St Andrews Church, Garden City.
The scheme is being delivered through the council’s Strategic Housing And Regeneration Programme, which is designed to deliver 500 new homes across Flintshire by 2021.
The Welsh Government-funded project is expected to be completed by March 2020 and Mr Cockerton said it marked a new way of working for the authority.
He added: “This will bring the total number of properties completed or approved by cabinet, and delivered by SHARP, to 305.
“The properties will be managed within the council’s housing revenue account and will be sufficiently flexible to house a range of local people as well as enabling the council to explore different delivery models.”
The report will be considered by the authority’s community and enterprise scrutiny committee next week.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).