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At a glance

Client/project partners: Ministry of Justice (MoJ)

Status: Complete

Location: Wellingborough

Modern methods of construction cuts one-fifth from prison programme.

We delivered the full MEP scope for the new HMP Five Wells, constructed on the site of the old HMP Wellingborough.

Power of experience

We were appointed by Kier based on our successful delivery of HMP Berwyn in Wrexham, North Wales, which saw us develop the MEP components using modern methods of construction.

The Five Wells project is an adult male category C resettlement prison. The project embraced DfMA and integrated digital tools to drive efficiencies in the design, construction and operation of the facility. Working in close collaboration with Kier, we developed high quality and repeatable component assemblies through our MMC approach.

Co-locating with Kier’s bid team, CHt provided early design, cost, programme and installation advice throughout the early stages of the project. We evaluated the design and the prefabrication strategy to generate collaborative solutions that prioritised extensive offsite prefabrication.

The quantity of roof modules, plant skids and houseblock risers, coupled with the fast track nature of the project meant that the programme would not be achieved through a traditional solution.

Our digital engineering capability enabled us to visualise the core components for approval by our stakeholders before we sent the designs for manufacture, and then onward for delivery to site. This approach supported collaboration and ensured maximum value and an efficient programme.

“The main benefit comes in the onsite installation time. Rather than waiting for the frame to complete before we start MEP fit out which could then last 6 to 12 weeks per area (riser, roof, plantroom); the work is done in advance and is 90% complete within days of the structure being available. This has seen us save more than 87,000 working hours on site during the course of the project. Added to that, working in a factory environment brings benefits in terms of quality control, health, safety and sees a reduction in waste.”
Martin Staehr Business Unit Leader

To control quality, CHt implemented Dalux fieldBIM technology, enabling Kier to track the status of components and assemblies being produced for HMP Five Wells across 10 different manufacturing facilities throughout the UK, including our own CHt Manufacturing in Oldbury.

A number of project metrics have also been aided by our capabilities. With 54,192 metres of cabling being installed, 45,910 metres of pipework assembled and complete 2,145 metres of module framework. This has all been achieved with a 145-strong workforce consisting of 30 class 1 welders, 63 pipe fitters, 25 welders / fitters, six plumbers and six apprentices, two of which are apprentice World Skills UK Champions.

“At HMP Five Wells, the digital engineering provided by CHt allowed us to see that MEP assemblies were designed in the right way for the services to function, and demonstrating this via virtual reality ahead of the installation gave all parties this reassurance. Utilising offsite manufacture has significantly benefited the build programme, with the project being delivered 22% faster than traditional construction. Prefabricated MEP alone is saving 54,000 working hours on site and we are extremely proud of the integrated approach of MMC and digital at HMP Five Wells, which has been cited as a blueprint for future prison building.”
Chris Downs Kier Project Director

Extensive social value commitments

As part of contract award, we made a firm commitment to add social value. We created 10 apprenticeships and 15 new (skilled and unskilled) jobs, also delivering 100 days of work placements and internships and three days of local community engagement. Furthermore, 52% of our spend was with local businesses within a 60 mile radius.

“Five Wells was “built with education, training and jobs at its heart” and had been “designed from top to bottom with smart technology to cut crime and protect the public."”
Ministry of Justice spokesperson

Key statistics


apprenticeships and 15 new (skilled and unskilled) jobs


days of work placements and internships


cut from prison programme


project spend with local businesses

Offsite fabrication and testing of


plant skids


pipe spools


riser modules


horizontal modules