29 May 2010

Auckland mayor, school unhappy with prison scale

6:56 pm on 29 May 2010

Angry community members in Auckland want the Department of Corrections to improve the look of a new central city prison.

The $216 million buildings, due for completion next year, will add more than 500 beds to Mt Eden Prison.

Auckland City mayor John Banks says the prison has turned into an architectural monstrosity and its final exterior must be done in a way to make it look more attractive.

Mr Banks says he tried to stop the prison being built in its present form.

One of the buildings is eight storeys high and towers above the city's southern motorway and Auckland Grammar School.

Grammar principal shocked

Principal John Morris says he is shocked by the scale of the building and the way it dominates the skyline of Epsom and Newmarket; it has grown in height, he says, since original consultation meetings with the department.

Mr Morris says another two buildings, still to be erected, will cast a shadow over the school's sportsfields and kill grass, making them unusable, but there is nothing the school can do to stop the project. It had spent about $500,000 upgrading the fields.

The Department of Corrections says the project has appropriate building and planning consents. Infrastructure general manager John Bole says the designs were even evaluated by Auckland City Council's urban design panel.

Mr Bole says the department has to use multi-storey buildings in order to fit the growing prison population.