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Prison site social housing commitment ‘must not be diluted’

Activists criticise Holloway jail site masterplan, as consultation is extended to August

03 July, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Holloway Prison, which closed in 2016, was sold last year to housing association Peabody and luxury homes developer London Square

THE Town Hall’s housing chief has backed activists warning housing association Peabody not to “dilute” their social housing commitments in the redevelopment of Holloway Prison.

Today (Friday) was due to be the last day members of the public would be able to comment on a masterplan, published by Peabody, for the redevelopment of the former women’s prison, but they have extended the consultation until August.

An open letter was written on Monday by the campaign group Islington Homes for All (IHFA) criticising the current masterplan for not breaking down how many homes on the site will be let at social rent levels.

It said: “We are calling for the current Peabody consultation to be re-designed as it does not cover the percentage of social housing nor how the rent levels compare with Islington’s council (target) rents. We want the consultation extended until September 2020 as many local people are still shielding and preoccupied with the health and economic impacts of coronavirus.”

Peabody have responded to the second point with a letter in the Tribune this week committing to an extension but they have not budged on the social housing request.

The council’s planning policies say that every site of 10 homes or more must be at least 50 per cent “genuinely affordable” homes. This is broken down into at least 35 per cent of homes for social rent and 15 per cent “intermediate homes”.

Intermediate homes include shared ownership and London Living Rent levels, which are targeted at households with an income of £90,000 and £60,000 a year respectively.

Peabody have pledged 60 per cent affordable homes, but have not made clear what the percentage breakdown will be.

“I’ve asked Peabody to extend their consultation,” said Town Hall housing chief Diarmaid Ward said.

“The percentage of social rent homes must not be diluted. A 50 per cent scheme would require at least 35 per cent social rent homes. Accordingly, a 60 per cent scheme needs at least 42 per cent social rent homes.”

Holloway Prison opened in 1852 and became a female-only prison in early 1900s. In 2015, then Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to close inner-city prisons and sell sites for housing. Holloway was closed the following year.

The Ministry of Justice sold the former prison to housing association giant Peabody and luxury homes developer London Square for £82m last year. The Mayor of London provided Peabody with a £42m loan to buy the site.

A Peabody spokesman said: “We are grateful to everyone locally who is helping to spread the word about the consultation process. All comments and feedback on our plans are welcome. We’ve delivered hundreds of new social rented homes for people on Islington Council’s waiting list in the last three years, and our plans for Holloway will also offer this.

“This stage of the consultation is on the draft masterplan, but we’ll be consulting again later in the summer on more detailed proposals. Workshops are also planned before then and a final exhibition of the scheme will be presented for comment before anything is submitted to Islington Council. We look forward to working with the community as the scheme progresses, and as we prepare our response to the Council’s separate consultation on the Women’s Building.”



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