The heritage value of the Grafton jail would be an attractive selling point to a company bringing their business here.
The heritage value of the Grafton jail would be an attractive selling point to a company bringing their business here.

Letter to politicians about the future of Grafton jail

CLARENCE Valley businessman Peter Nicholson has come up with a plan that use the Grafton jail site to promote generational change in the city.

He has sent a letter outlining his view for the city's future to both the State Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis and the Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan.

This is his letter in full.

What is the best use for the Grafton jail site once the prisoners have gone?

This poll ended on 30 September 2015.

Current Results

A research facility


A novelty hotel tourism venture


A historical or other type of museum


Low cost housing.


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Dear Kevin and Chris,

I am writing to bring to your attention an idea I have been mulling over for some time.

The Grafton jail is a magnificent piece of infrastructure which seems to have been put into low level hibernation and the too hard basket for the time being.

Given that housing prisoners can and should be done in a modern, humane and cost effective manner, I can see many problems with keeping the old Grafton jail within the prison infrastructure system.

This leaves open the question of what to do with the Grafton jail.

You are both in box seat positions to guide a discussion that could plan for a change in usage of the jail, which in turn could have profound effects on Grafton and the Clarence Valley for decades to come.

When the jail was first built, it provided new and ongoing economic stimulus and became an intrinsic part of the local and regional economy for many decades.

With good planning and a strong tactical search for new occupier, the reinvention of the site usage, would give impetus to long term growth and development of the social and economic capital of Grafton and the region.

The site itself comes with many advantages for a public / private reinvention, I have listed some below.

  • Very strong security capacity
  • Central town location with full block occupation and regional hospital neighbour
  • Very solid construction in good condition
  • Open space for further building development
  • Built in human services, kitchen, accommodation, bathroom as required
  • External parking

I would like to suggest some potential usages for the site but that may be better left to an appointed steering committee with appropriate planning, commercial qualifications, a brief to think creatively for the long term.

The importance of this opportunity is generational.

What I can say is, if a research and development business (example) was to take over the site, the advantages of being located in Grafton and the Northern Rivers would include,

  • Close proximity to Southern Cross University and University of New England
  • Safe and peaceful environment for employees to live and work in, especially good for families
  • Clean air, water and soil
  • Well serviced by air, road, rail
  • Lower cost housing
  • Connected to the NBN
  • Stable workforce

If the site had a new use in the commercial R&D area, the ramifications for Grafton, the Clarence Valley and the Northern Rivers would be profound. The introduction of higher income salaries and spending habits would percolate through the local economy lifting quality of life outcomes for current and new residents.

Grafton jail redevelopment can and should be presented as a clean palette opportunity to the world not just as a local NSW development where options are limited to new housing or the like. The site must be redeveloped to set Grafton up for the next 50 years of social and economic development, anything less would be a tragedy for the town and the valley.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts,

With kind regards, Peter Nicholson

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