The department is currently planning to launch procurements for two prison buildings, one at the Glen Parva site in Leicestershire and another at Wellingborough in Northamptonshire.
“We are having early discussions with a number of companies in the construction, private finance and custodial services industries about these plans,” a prison service spokesperson said.
The Glen Parva site has been earmarked to be built under the government’s PF2 model and the scheme will be proceeding to a competition for privately financed construction of the site, subject to the normal tests of affordability and planning.
It is expected to be the first of five new prisons to be funded through a private finance model, with two more being tendered per year from 2019.
However, some in the industry have questioned whether the government should be developing the programme in the current climate, without first making the case for private financing.