Page last updated at 17:48 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Prison at old RAF base approved

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A category C jail housing 500 offenders will be built

Plans to build a 500-inmate prison at the site of the former RAF base at Coltishall have been approved by North Norfolk District Council.

The new category C prison will be made up of converted RAF buildings and some new buildings, all surrounded by a 17ft (5.2m) high security fence.

The lower security jail could open by October 2009.

The new prison will bring some 400 full time jobs to the area and help the local economy, said the government.

Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk Norman Lamb, who is against the plan, said: "If you were talking about a rational prison building programme nationally you would not be building a prison in the middle of the Norfolk countryside.

"We're told that reoffending rates are brought down where you make it easier for families to keep in touch with prisoners. We're making it about as difficult as possible for families to reach prisoners."

The governor-designate of Coltishall prison Paul Cawkwell said of the change of use: "These are very solid buildings. They were built to withstand the Lutfwaffe. They make perfect sense for placing prisoners within them.

"We can make a good prison at Coltishall and we can make a big difference to the economy of Norfolk."

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