IslingtonTribune

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Will empty prison staff flats become luxury homes?

08 February, 2019

‘The MoJ remains intransigent and uncaring about the needs of the community’

• I TOTALLY support Jean Willson (Empty flats are left to rot in midst of housing crisis, Letters, February 1).

In 2011, when I was on the council, my attention was drawn to some flats behind Pentonville Prison known as Wellington Mews which were not on the electoral register.

I visited them and found, as I recall, two blocks containing 28 large, four-bedroom flats of which about six were occupied and all in need of external works.

Working with the council’s officer for new housing I discovered that they were prison staff quarters but the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) was not continuing to let them out. The MoJ was also not interested in leasing them to Islington Council, citing “security concerns”.

Yes, they are next to the prison wall, but no closer than the flats of the Caledonian estate, and elsewhere the prison wall directly abuts public roads.

It seemed to me that the main use was of the flats’ courtyard as a prison staff car park. Both former councillor James Murray and Councillor Diarmaid Ward have had further requests for the flats to be leased to the council turned down.

Vehicle access is via a lengthy drive from Caledonian Road, but if the council could use the flats a route might be created via Armour Close or through the Caledonian estate.

It would be a simple matter to integrate the block along Roman Way into the public domain as there is a pedestrian gate that is currently locked. Both here and at Holloway Prison the MoJ remains intransigent and uncaring about the needs of the community.

I understand Michael Gove’s plans to sell off London prisons are currently under review. Is the MoJ waiting for the time when the whole of Pentonville (the oldest prison still in use), including Wellington Mews, can be sold for redevelopment as luxury homes?

BARRY EDWARDS
Islington Labour councillor (2006-2014)

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