Land puzzle provides clues about how West Dapto prison could take shape

Jail jigsaw: The massive Kembla Grange land earmarked for a West Dapto prison includes five separate land holdings. Artist: Josh Hall. Click the image for an enlarged version
Jail jigsaw: The massive Kembla Grange land earmarked for a West Dapto prison includes five separate land holdings. Artist: Josh Hall. Click the image for an enlarged version

So far, all we know about the potential minimum and maximum security West Dapto prison is that it will be located somewhere on a giant slab of Kembla Grange land.

With an eight kilometre perimeter and a land size about 40 hectares greater than what will soon be Australia’s largest prison, being built at Grafton, this has flummoxed many in the Wollongong community.

A Mercury analysis of the site – which comprises five separate landholdings – may help to reveal more about the shape of the jail.

Despite scarce information, the most likely location for the bulk of the prison infrastructure could be on the north-eastern portion of a 48 hectare site along West Dapto Road. Owned by BlueScope and farthest from current and future West Dapto homes, this land is mostly zoned for heavy industry.

This matches statements made by Kiama MP Gareth Ward, who said it would be “nowhere near residences, it’s part of an industrial area”.

The prison infrastructure may also cross into a site at 261 West Dapto Road, also owned by BlueScope, which includes a large tract of light industrial land edged by environmental zones.

West of West Dapto Road – which has been earmarked for a $13.3 million council upgrade in the next three years to make it a major northern entry into the housing development area – lies the largest allotment: 84 Sheaffes Road, again owned by BlueScope. This 89 hectare site comprises conservation and environmental land, which surrounds a patch of industrial area and neighbours an area of low density residential land.

It is unclear how the prison would affect access to the road, and to what extent it would continue west towards the housing estates under construction at Paynes Road.

However, if it was to look anything like the Grafton facility, high security sections to lock away prisoners could be separated by parkland, sports yards and rows of trees.

The other two smaller lots included in the Corrective Services map of the potential prison site are part of Kembla Grange Golf Course, owned by Dapto Leagues Club, and a cemetery owned by the Catholic church. 

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