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Holloway Prison site: record consultation response reveals strong support for draft planning guidance

Islington Council today announced that it has received strong community support for its planning guidance regarding the former Holloway Prison site, which includes a requirement that at least 50% of any new housing built on the site must be genuinely affordable.

The historic prison site was formerly Europe’s largest women’s prison, and was used to imprison suffragettes in the early 1900s. At more than four hectares, the publically-owned site is now one of the largest development sites in central London and is currently up for sale by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

More than 500 people responded to the council’s consultation on its Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for the site which includes the council’s requirement that 50 per cent of any new housing on the site must be genuinely affordable. Respondents were given the option of completing a survey, or submitting direct correspondence.

This is the biggest-ever response in Islington to a community consultation on a planning document of this kind, and the first time a local authority has produced its own site capacity assessment and development viability study, in tandem with an SPD.

Of the 500 respondents, around 400 people chose to respond via a survey with specific questions related to the SPD. Of the survey respondents:

  • Two thirds said they agreed with the council’s objectives for the site, which includes the 50% affordable housing target.
  • 86 per cent agreed with the objective to secure open space and play space on the site
  • More than 80 per cent agreed or strongly agreed with the inclusion of community (non-residential) uses for the site, such as a women’s centre and a small amount of retail/commercial space.

The draft SPD, which has been endorsed by the Mayor’s office, notes that bidders for the site must take into account planning requirements – including for affordable housing – when deciding how much money to bid.

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “The history of Holloway Prison will be familiar to all who fight for social justice. Today, this community is fighting for decent housing – for the basic principle that everyone should have a safe, secure home.

“We believe that providing high levels of genuinely affordable housing is not only possible but essential for the future of Islington. It’s clear from this consultation that the Islington community backs that belief.

“This document is an innovative, robust piece of planning with a ringing community endorsement and a very clear message ­– this is publically owned land, and we demand that it be used to benefit the community by building desperately needed, affordable homes.

“We hope this will deter developers from overpaying for this land, and then arguing about the level of affordable housing that can be delivered."

The SPD has recently been finalised and will be formally adopted at the council’s Executive in January.