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Holloway prison site plans: women’s centre ‘tucked away in wrong place’

Campaigners want legacy of jail - which closed in 2016 - to be part of land redevelopment

19 June, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Protests at Holloway prison during negotiations over its future

ACTIVISTS have criticised plans released this week for the redevelopment of Holloway prison saying that it is “not a proper legacy at all”.

Housing association Peabody unveiled its long awaited draft masterplan for the new housing development on the former female-prison site in Camden Road which is open for consultation until July 3.

The scheme includes details of up to 1,050 homes of which 60 per cent are earmarked as “affordable housing”,

When the Tribune asked Peabody how many would be let at social rent it said the “exact tenure mix would be finalised as the scheme evolves”.

A building and centre which supports vulnerable women is seen by several campaign groups as an integral part of the whole redevelopment, to ensure it reflects the site’s near 150-year history of incarceration.

Nikki Gibbs, of Reclaim Holloway, said she had been told that the women’s building was going to be the smallest block, as part of a group of three towers rising from seven to 11 storeys facing onto Camden Road.

Ms Gibbs added: “It’s in the wrong place. It’s not a proper legacy for the prison at all. It’s tucked away and stuck on the side of a block of flats.”

Wednesday marked four years since the last prisoner left the jail after the then justice secretary Michael Gove announced that it would be closed along with several other Victorian inner-city prisons.

The Ministry of Justice sold the former women’s prison to housing association giant Peabody and luxury homes developer London Square for £82million last year.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan provided Peabody with a £42million loan from the Mayor’s Land Fund to buy the site.

The plan drawn up by Peabody includes 9,500sq of open space and a new public park.

The Community Plan for Holloway (CPFH) group has been set up to monitor the scheme and put pressure on Peabody to listen to residents’ views.

Tricia Clarke, a member of the CPFH board of directors and a Labour wad councillor, said: There’s clearly a huge level of interest in what will be Islington’s biggest housing development for over 30 years. Everyone should respond to the consultation.”

Islington’s housing chief Councillor Diarmaid Ward said: “There’s no justice without housing justice. We need a high quality development on the Holloway site with as many social rent homes as possible for those in our borough who desperately need them.”

A spokesman for Peabody said: “The location of the Women’s Building hasn’t been decided yet and we are planning design workshops shortly to discuss this and other matters.”

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