Environment Minister Nick Smith has directed a proposal to build a men's prison in South Auckland to an independent board of inquiry.
The Department of Corrections plans to build a 1500 bed men's prison alongside the Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility in Manukau.
In order to build it, the department needs approval to alter the designation of the site.
Dr Smith says the application is nationally significant due to the size of the project and the importance of coping with the projected rise in the prison population.
A Board of Inquiry will be independent of government ministers and enable communities to have their say. It will deliver a decision within nine months, he says.