The Justice Department is continuing with preparations for the Northern Regional Prison development application as it considers companies for a $1 million architectural design tender, despite speculation surrounding the use of the Ashley Youth Detention Centre for a prison.
The request for tender process closed on September 22, with the successful company to prepare and submit a planning scheme amendment and development application with Meander Valley Council.
The plans are for the current preferred site at Brushy Rivulet, north of Westbury, the subject of opposition from community and environmental groups.
The $1 million figure for the plans makes up the majority of the department's planned $1.5 million spend on the prison in 2021-22.
The government hopes to have the application before council in early 2022.
But the future use of Ashley would be determined after a "transition pathway" was developed by the Department of Communities, which a government spokesperson described as "a significant and complex project".
The Justice Department is also continuing to engage with the Commonwealth over potential offset land for protection, given the Brushy Rivulet land is subject to a legal agreement between the state and federal governments for its conservation protection.
"DPIPWE and the Commonwealth government remain in active discussions around the future management of the Crown Land site at Birralee Road," a government spokesperson said.
"Part of this discussion includes possible offset of other Crown Land that would allow for a boundary adjustment of the current property."
The "boundary adjustment" could allow for the southern boundary of the land to be brought in to exclude the prison footprint, with the remainder of the Brushy Rivulet land to be protected.
But opponents have consistently said the addition of a prison on any part of the land would have adverse conservation outcomes for listed species such as the grey goshawk, Tasmanian devil, masked owl and green and gold frog.
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