The Ministry of Justice is committed to delivering 10,000 new adult prison places

The Ministry of Justice will appoint three contractors by January to build six prisons as part of its £1.3bn revamp of the country’s prison system, Building has learned.

Former justice secretary Michael Gove championed plans for a radical overhaul of the prison estate before being booted out by Theresa May after the EU referendum - but the outline of his plans survived the reshuffle and were taken up by his successor Liz Truss.

Now the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is pressing ahead with appointing a construction team to deliver the programme.

Invitations to tender for contractors are expected to go out at the beginning of next month to firms on the department’s current contractor framework, where the incumbents are Balfour Beatty, Henry Boot, Interserve, Lendlease, Kier, Miller, Shaylor, Shepherd, ISG and Vinci. Although it is understood the department may look wider than this, with Carillion and Wates also linked with the work.

Meanwhile, consultants including Aecom, Jacobs, Mace, Mott MacDonald and Turner & Townsend are understood to be vying for the project manager role on the prison building programme.

The five are all on the national multi-disciplinary lot of the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) current consultancy framework, awarded in 2014.

Architect Bryden Wood and consultant WT Partnership are already understood to have bagged client-side roles on the programme, as lead architect and cost consultant respectively.

Building has learned the Ministry of Justice has codenamed potential prison sites - which are still being finalised - with bird names including “Sparrow” and “Quail”.

Under Gove’s original plans, first outlined last July, the department expected to build nine new prisons - five during the life of the current parliament and four shortly after - and close aging Victorian ones such as Pentonville, making way for redevelopment schemes.

In a white paper on reforming the country’s prison system published last month, Truss committed to spending £1.3bn to build up to 10,000 new adult prison places and close prisons in a poor condition.

The government has already closed the infamous women’s prison Holloway earlier this year. Mmeanwhile a new prison being built near Wrexham in Wales called HMP Berwyn is to open in February.

Truss added in the white paper that the MoJ would begin the process of applying for planning permission for the new prisons before the end of this year, starting with the redevelopment of Midlands prisons HMP Wellingborough and HMP & YOI Glen Parva, which would close and be replaced with new facilities.