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Holloway jail site vision ‘traumatic’ for women

Campaigners say housing association should go back to drawing board over red-brick facade

16 July, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

How the Holloway Prison site buildings could look

CAMPAIGNERS for a standalone women’s building on the Holloway Prison site say they are concerned over the consultation process, as sketches of how the redevelopment could look went on display.

The Community Plan for Holloway (CP4H) group said that a wide section of views needed to be taken into account before the project being drawn up by Peabody gets the go-ahead.

The housing association have pledged to include a women’s building but have been told they should have put it at the heart of the scheme and created a landmark destination service.

As an exhibition continued this week, Niki Gibbs of CP4H said concerns have not been resolved.

She added: “They haven’t addressed the fact that the red-brick facade is reminiscent of the prison and would actually be very traumatic for women.

“They didn’t address the fact that it treats women like children to share an art department with a creche.

The jail was closed in 2016

“We want them to go back to the drawing board. They need to set it aside, rather than develop it first, and rethink the women’s building, and it needs to be whatever the experts say.”

Holloway, which closed in 2016, was once the largest female-only prison in Europe. Suffragettes including Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison were held there.

Peabody bought the site in 2019 for around £82million using grants and loans from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

They are planning to build around 1,000 new homes with 60 per cent at affordable rates. Forty-two per cent will be at cheapest council rate.

Melissa Herman, another member of CP4H, said: “We think they should be promoting a more conversational and discursive online and face-to-face consultation.

“There have been some more positive things that have come out of the development. We really welcome that 42 per cent of the housing will be social rent. But another 18 per cent is shared ownership, which we think is unaffordable for ordinary people – we prefer London Living Rent.”

Supporters of the idea for a standalone women’s building spoke of their disappointment at a London Festival of Architecture event last month, with the view that it was being tucked away in the development rather than standing as a prominent legacy to the prison.

Jonathan Ward, from CP4H, said: “What concerns me is they are not communicating the reality of what they are proposing. They are not actually properly illustrating the buildings in their context and they are not giving people examples and context images of what it would be like.”

He added: “They have just got lovely, beautifully sunlit images of landscaping but the enormity of this project is going to be 1,000 homes, which means around 2,500 people will live here.

“It concerns me that they are not communicating in a way people can understand. It will be 14 storeys high, which is quite a height, and it has nothing to explain how that overshadows the park. They are not offering good information on that.”

A Peabody spokeswoman said: “It is great that so many people are finding the time to take part in the latest consultation for the new homes at Holloway. We were able to share the consultation materials and feedback form with CP4H who suggested several comments, amendments and supplementary questions which were almost wholly incorporated.

“We are pleased that the plans for 985 homes, 60 per cent of which are affordable, a Women’s Building twice the size of the facilities in the prison and a large public park with play space for a variety of ages, are going down well and look forward to further meaningful consultation later in the summer. We are seeking views and comments on a wide range of issues and will be showing the final plans later in the year.

“The Women’s Building is a central part of this proposal, honouring the legacy of the site and supporting women into the future.”

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