Location and site considerations
Location and site are some of the most critical issues in the redevelopment of any correctional facility.
The issues to be faced in the development of any new building or facility, regardless of its intended use, are recognisably difficult and are addressed in comprehensive planning legislation in every State in Australia.
Publicly-owned facilities require a comprehensive planning approach with wide public consultation even before they enter the formal planning approval path.
The location and siting options for the replacement of the Risdon Prison were assessed during the Stage B Project.
It was concluded that the Risdon site offered the best location particularly from a service delivery perspective as it provides:
- good access to the courts, law enforcement, legal and emergency services,
- access for staff and relatives
- better opportunities for recruiting staff and obtaining support from health, education and general service providers
The site itself was evaluated for a new campus-style development and was considered to be adequate in size with good aspects without presenting particular difficulties in relation to slope and neighbourhood issues.
Consideration has been given to a range of issues in the Site Inventory Report, prepared in conjunction with the Master Plan Report including:
- historic cultural heritage
- Aboriginal cultural heritage
- flora and fauna
- landscaping and visual impact
These matters were reviewed by the master planners and it was considered that generally their resolution could be managed during the detailed schematic design stage.
Generally the significant issues concerning visual matters, Aboriginal cultural heritage and flora and fauna are related to those portions of the site on the northern boundary within the zone of the Grass Tree Rivulet and to the west on the steeper slopes.
The project brief required certain buffer zones to be established for security reasons.
Master planning recognised these constraints and was able to accommodate the need to restrict development in these areas by utilising the buffer zones for these purposes.
The traffic study undertaken as part of the Site Inventory Report looked at a number of access points. The master planning process reviewed the options offered and concluded the existing point of access to the site is the best option.
Impact on neighbours
The early site planning took into account the need for careful consideration of any impacts of the redevelopment on neighbours.
In order to minimise the impact, a significant level of tree planting has been undertaken. Early planting has proceeded in those areas of the site not affected by construction.
Initial on-site investigations have been carried out. These indicated significant rock at a shallow depth. This has limited the options for civil design.
In looking at how the overall prison could 'fit' on the site a number of factors have limited the extent of the male prison perimeter.
- To the east, the close proximity of Risdon Vale constrains development with the existing female prison being considered as the closest recommended boundary for the new facility.
- The existing prison building will be retained in the short to medium term. While new accommodation will be provided in this stage, continued access will be required to existing prison facilities such as the laundry, kitchen and store. Such access requires the new facility to be sited in close proximity to the existing prison.
- To the north, the Grass Tree Rivulet restricts development and to the west the East Derwent Highway provides another constraint. As mentioned previously the slope of the site to the south together with the site access from East Derwent Highway constrain development to the south.
- The Project Brief requires a 35 to 70 metre cleared buffer to the outside of the secure perimeter.
Zoning for major facilities on site
In reviewing the above constraints, the master planning process has concluded that the only portion of the site suitable for redevelopment into a high security male prison is that portion adjoining, and on the north-west side of the existing prison.
The project brief required the siting for the secure mental health unit to have maximum separation and be distinctly different from the prison facilities.
In view of this. the only portion of the site remaining for redevelopment that suited this need was that portion on the southern boundary. This approach has been adopted in the master plan.