PICTURE this: some time in the near future, the last prisoner has been taken from Grafton jail and an international company has moved onto the site.

The company specialises in medical research and has come to the Clarence Valley after years of wooing from a consortium of government and business.

It finds the site's proximity to two universities, a hospital, secure construction and built in human services ideal for its work.

The location on the North Coast of NSW with clean air and soil, a river and nearby coast is an attraction to its staff and their families.

A Clarence Valley businessman has already proposed this scenario in a letter to local politicians Chris Gulaptis and Kevin Hogan.

OPINION: Research facility for Grafton jail just what Clarence needs

The owner of Nicholson Fine Foods, Peter Nicholson, believes with some planning, hard work and imagination this scenario could translate into a generational change for the region.

"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," he wrote.

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.

"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."

Mr Nicholson said the response from the politicians was luke warm, with Mr Gulaptis pointing out the jail would house prisoners for some time.

"But that doesn't mean you can't start working towards it now," Mr Nicholson said. "A steering committee could be formed to investigate the best usage for the site and look around the world for prospects.

"There are companies in the USA and Europe who would find this sort of thing very attractive.

One Yamba business owner has proposed the Grafton jail be turned into a research and development hub - like a medical...

Posted by The Daily Examiner on Wednesday, 23 September 2015

"You would need to throw some money at it, but the prospects are so good it would be a worthwhile investment."

He said 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," he said.


  •  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
FUTURE VISION: Could the jail become a generational game changer for Grafton?
FUTURE VISION: Could the jail become a generational game changer for Grafton?