Dundee women’s custody unit plan recommended for approval

Councillors in Dundee have been asked to approve an application for a women’s custody unit.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) submitted plans for the community custody unit (CCU) on Nelson Street, at the site of the former Our Lady’s Primary School in the Hilltown area of the city.

The complex will house up to 16 prisoners from Dundee and the surrounding areas, who have been assessed as suitable for reintroduction to the community.

Currently, the only female custody unit is HMP Cornton Vale in Stirling, which is due to close in 2020. However, construction of another in Glasgow is currently underway.

Executive director of city development, Robin Presswood, is recommending that approval be granted for the unit, subject to 23 planning conditions.

More than 1,300 people have signed a petition objecting the unit.

The application will be debated at a meeting of Dundee City Council’s planning committee on Monday.

In his report to be heard at the meeting, Mr Presswood stated the proposed development is an integral part of the Scottish Government’s strategy for dealing with women in custody.

He added: “The design and layout responds positively to the character and amenity of the surrounding area.

“While it is inward–looking in order to create a safe, private, domestic–style living and activity environment for residents, it remains discreetly linked to the wider community through the delineation and definition between public and private areas which are a key feature of the design.

“The hub building is designed to be outward–looking, friendly and welcoming in character, featuring a degree of transparency into the main entrance foyer and adjacent space.

“The proposed external building materials pick up both the character of the traditional built fabric and the new modern development in the surrounding area.

“The design and layout is sensitive to the existing mature landscaping on the site offering a pleasant environment while allowing the buildings to integrate discreetly with the surrounding built environment.”

Mr Presswood said: “The unit will not feature overt security measures of the sort normally associated with a custodial facility.”

A spokesman for the SPS said: “We are aware of the petition and are confident that we will put measures in place to be a good neighbour in the Hilltown.

“We have held various consultations in Dundee and most people agree in principle that the unit is a good idea but not in this location.”

If approved, the CCU will open in late 2020.

Image credits: SPS

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