Holloway Prison site flats: the unanswered questions
15 March, 2019
Campaigners who pressed for council housing on the prison site
• THE banner of Islington Homes for All (IHFA) states “Council housing not luxury flats” and it is in this context we respond to the sale of Holloway Prison site to Peabody housing association.
The agreed percentage of social rent housing, at 42 per cent, is significantly higher than what has become the norm in housing developments. It is also slightly better than Islington Council’s minimum of 35 per cent, as contained in its supplementary planning document.
This result is due to three key factors: the determination of housing campaigners, the strongly-held views of local people that what is needed is council housing, and the actions of the council to challenge the government’s efforts to decimate social housing.
We regret that this public land will no longer be subject to democratic control and has been sold to the private sector for £81million. The £42m loan from the Mayor of London will allow Sadiq Khan to add the 600 “genuinely affordable” homes in Holloway to his four-year target, but this is far short of what could have been achieved.
We welcome the Peabody announcement that it is “fully committed to an inclusive and wide-reaching community engagement programme as the design work progresses through 2019 and early 2020”. Such engagement could initially be demonstrated by an early public meeting, with all interested parties invited to express their views and discuss options for the site.
The press coverage so far has been inconsistent. There are many questions that need to be answered, maybe the most important for the community being: how will social rent levels be determined? We call on Peabody to arrange such a meeting soon, near the prison site.
IHFA is aware that the Conservative government has removed legal social landlord requirements from housing associations. Many of these organisations have quickly become commercial rather than social, one clear example being their increased auctioning off of previously socially-rented homes.
However, in the eyes of the public they provide a social need and we, along with other local organisations, will hold Peabody to account and continue to press for maximising council housing.
ISLINGTON HOMES FOR ALL