New jail proposed for Kembla Grange site at West Dapto

The Kembla Grange site where it's proposed a new correctional facility will be built. Picture: supplied. Click the image to see an enlarged version
The Kembla Grange site where it's proposed a new correctional facility will be built. Picture: supplied. Click the image to see an enlarged version

A new jail could be built in Wollongong, with the NSW government looking at a site for a minimum-to-maximum security correctional facility at Kembla Grange.

The government on Monday revealed it had shortlisted a parcel of land in the fast-growing area around West Dapto for a jail, but wouldn’t say how big the facility might be, or exactly how many inmates it would house. 

The government and its justice arm, Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) stressed the deal was not yet done and the community would be consulted before the facility was given the green light. 

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The prison, if approved, would be built on land bordered by the railway line, West Dapto Road and Sheaffes Road. 

The land is next to the lawn cemetery and a car transport and storage facility. It is also within a stone’s throw of Kembla Grange train station.

“It’s nowhere near residences, it’s part of an industrial area and currently owned by BlueScope,” parliamentary secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward said.

Asked how big the correctional facility would be if built, Mr Ward said he was “confident that we can build a rather large facility” that would create hundreds of jobs. 

The MP wouldn’t be drawn on whether the proposed jail would be similar to the 1700-bed correctional centre at Grafton, which is currently under construction. 

“I can’t tell you exactly how big the facility will be, we’re having consultation around the concept and I’m not going to be drawn on a figure,” he said. 

“What I will tell the community is it will be several hundred beds and several hundred jobs.”

As for the make-up of the proposed Kembla Grange correctional facility, Mr Ward said:

“We’d be looking at maximum through to minimum, so we’ll be catering to a number of different types of prison population.”

At this stage, it would be a male-only jail. Corrective Services confirmed it had begun preliminary investigations to determine whether the Dapto area would be a suitable location for a correctional facility. 

“The investigation is in the very early stages and discussions have just commenced with Wollongong City Council to ensure we are familiar with any community needs or concerns”, a CSNSW spokeswoman said. 

“It is important to note that no decision has been made.” 

Despite the plan not yet being locked-in, Mr Ward said it did have bipartisan support from Illawarra Labor MPs.

Community consultation is expected to begin within weeks. 

“This is not a guarantee, we need to make sure the community’s prepared to accept this, Mr Ward said. 

More to come