IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

‘Don’t give an inch’ plea over Holloway affordable homes

Housing developer puts forward fresh plans to transform former Territorial Army base into luxury housing

25 January, 2019 — By Emily Finch

The former TA base in Parkhurst Road

THE latest move by a housing developer to transform a former Territorial Army base in Holloway into luxury housing has been condemned by campaigners.

The Town Hall has been locked in a battle with Parkhurst Road Ltd since it first released site plans for a develop­ment without any afford­able homes back in 2013.

Islington Council won a “landmark” High Court case against the developer last year after its calls for 50 per cent affordable homes to be included in the plans were ignored – despite two public inquiries.

This week, the developer registered another scheme, insisting it can only afford 30 per cent affordable homes.

“Given the scale of the housing crisis this is unacceptable,” said housing campaigner Glyn Robbins, who teaches at the London School of Economics and manages Quaker Court estate in Finsbury.

He added: “The developer has already said it’s not ‘viable’ to produce any affordable housing on the site. Then they said they couldn’t manage 10 per cent. Now they say they can manage 30 per cent.

“Maybe if the council keeps pushing, they’ll find they can afford 50 per cent. They are clearly completely oblivious to the 18,000 people on Islington’s waiting list for housing. I really hope the council doesn’t give the developer an inch.”

The 50 per cent affordable homes policy for new developments has been part of the council’s “core strategy” since 2010.

Housing chief Diarmaid Ward has previously criticised the “dark arts” of viability valuation used by developers.

Last July, he told a full council meeting: “Put simply, you can’t overpay for land, and then say: ‘We can’t afford to build social housing.’ They’re not going to get away with it any more.”

In the latest viability assessment acc­ompanying the plans for 96 homes, Parkhurst Road Ltd says: “The inclusion of 30 per cent affordable housing by unit is considered to be above the maximum reasonable level of affordable housing.”

The developer paid the Ministry of Defence £13.25million for the building back in 2013. It is being rented out to property guardians, who stay in the building at a discounted rate and keep out squatters.

The developer says in its latest assessment that the market value of the site is now only “between £6.27m and £9.65m”.

Questions have been asked about the future of the nearby former Holloway Prison site with an announcement about the chosen developer expected from the Ministry of Justice last spring.

Matt Ford, from the Community Plan for Holloway project, said: “I suggest the Ministry of Justice cuts out the developer, hands the site over to the council, and central govern­ment provides it with the funding to build social housing and other community resources for local people.”

Parkhurst Road Ltd say in their application: “The proposal will enhance the area by providing a rich variety of landscaped spaces – both private and public and the architecture will complement the surrounding area, inclu­ding the adjacent Hill­marton conservation area.” They could not be reached for comment.

The Town Hall does not comment on active planning applications.

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