Ministry of Justice for Wellingborough Prison

The new build resettlement prison in Wellingborough is an exemplar for integration and collaborative working. Situated on a 36-acre site in Northampton, this vast £253m project will deliver 1,680 prison places through a Partnering Contract. Led by the Ministry of Justice, each partner has worked single-mindedly from day one to create a high-performing, collaborative team with shared objectives and values.

Wellingborough’s primary purpose is to create spaces that reduce reoffending, resulting in safer communities. It is the first in a series of schemes to be undertaken as part of the MoJ’s wider challenge to reform and modernise the prison estate to make it more efficient, safer and focused on rehabilitation. A core feature of the programme is to optimise how the MoJ’s assets are designed, procured, delivered and operated, through a Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) or ‘platform’ approach. Compared with traditional construction, this involved forming an integrated, cohesive team much earlier in the process, bringing in specialist input to maximise value.

Aligning with the Ministry of Justice’s aims of reducing costs through increased productivity and advanced data management, BIM and digital is front and centre, helping us improve as we take learnings from this flagship digital scheme and apply its successes to other projects.

However, as George Westerman at MIT once said:

When digital transformation is done right, it’s like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but when done wrong, all you have is a really fast caterpillar.”


Being that butterfly, rather than a fast caterpillar, requires a perfect storm of:

  • Intelligent client
  • Digitally enabled and committed supply chain
  • Technological investment
  • Forward-thinking people

The new build prison in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) provided Kier and their supply chain with that perfect storm as a platform for digital and DfMA advancement. The results have been considerable and diverse; providing direct project benefits, wider economic gains, as well as programme-wide improvements through standardisation, digital integration and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).

Ultimately, Wellingborough reflects the bold aspirations of its client to create safe and decent accommodation that facilitates rehabilitation of the prisoners that will reside there. The scale of the build has facilitated investment within Kier’s supply chain and the MoJ has been keen that Kier takes every opportunity to use Wellingborough as a platform to educate, train and inspire new and existing industry professionals to fully appreciate all aspects of digital and Modern Methods of Construction.

Key achievements

  • Engaged client who set the bar high from the outset aiming to achieve BIM Level 2+;
  • First ever use of Project Partnering contract (PPC2000) across multiple Tier 1 contractors;
  • Delivering MMC at scale; with the scheme featuring over 15,000 precast panels and 30,000 MEP cast-in components