New build prison at Wellingborough

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. Each partner has worked single-mindedly from day one to create a high-performing, collaborative team with shared objectives and values. 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 MMC.


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.

Kier is driving a manufacturing mindset for Wellingborough, acting as project ‘integrator’ to bring together a diverse team to deliver the component-led approach. The project incorporates over 60,000 repeatable, standardised components, assemblies and sub-assemblies and is utilising three different precast suppliers; Bison Precast, FP McCann and Banagher in a total of six different factories across the UK, as well as specialist HybriDfMA structural frame contractor PCE. The immense scope of work demands very close collaboration between all parties, and the precast sector has shown its maturity to work together to deliver a project of this scale; setting itself at the forefront of true pan-sector collaboration.

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. Kier is trialling cutting-edge technologies on site, fully engaging with the supply chain, partners and client to provide tangible benefits in terms of cost, programme, predictability, quality, safety, productivity and end-user experience. Using Solibri and BIMCollab for design co-ordination has empowered each discipline to collaborate efficiently and seamlessly in a digital environment, sharing data, coordinating each other’s design and progressively populating the model over the project lifecycle. All six precast factories are using Dalux to log their QA; enabling Kier to control quality, track progress and make fast decisions based on live dashboard data. The team used Virtual Reality with the Ministry of Justice to review resident flows and room layouts and Augmented Reality to test virtual inductions and method statements.


The scale of the build has facilitated investment within our supply chain and we are using Wellingborough at every opportunity 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

  • First use of Project Partnering Contract across multiple Tier 1 contractors.
  • Integration at scale: over 60 supply chain members; 5 main designers; 15,183 precast panels; 1,680 cell doors; 2,400 windows; 19,680 conduits; 2,110 underfloor heating mats; 1,682 shower trays.
  • We are using Wellingborough at every opportunity as a platform to educate, train and inspire. The project even has an integrated communications strategy to ensure that we promote each element of the works effectively for the benefit of the project as a whole and each individual organisation. Wellingborough project team members including Kier, the supply chain and client have collaboratively presented at Offsite Construction Show, UK Construction Week, Construction Productivity Conference and Futurebuild, as well as for various Supply Chain Sustainability School events and training videos. We’ve hosted factory tours with Buildoffsite and provided case studies to Constructing Excellence to ensure knowledge and insight is shared. We are also capturing each business’ unique perspective through a series of blogs which we’ve shared with the industry.