Questions raised over homes at former Holloway women’s prison

Concept plan

“Concept plan” taken from the document, Holloway Prison Site Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) A plan for the future of Holloway Prison site

Designs for the multi-million pound plan to transform the former Holloway women’s prison into housing are set to come under the spotlight when residents quiz politicians.

The planning application has just gone in for nearly 1,000 homes on the site which once housed some of Britain’s most notorious women prisoners.

Holloway was Europe’s largest women’s prison and had space for 591 prisoners.

High profile inmates included the Ruth Ellis, who was the last woman to be hanged, and child murderers Myra Hindley and Rose West.

The last cell door clanged shut in 2016 and the Ministry of Justice sold the four hectare site to Peabody for £81.5m in 2019.

The housing association plans to build 980 homes in blocks up to 14 storeys high – including 415  offered at social rent.

The scheme includes 696 “family” homes with two or more bedrooms and a women’s block offering services to support to vulnerable women. There will also be homes for 60 older people.

The plans were recently submitted to Islington Council and include a public park and commercial buildings. There will also be new cycleways and pedestrian routes linking up the land which was off-limits to the public for the prison’s 164-year history.

In a 2018 document, Islington Council described it as a “windfall site” to help it meet its target for 1,264 new homes a year.

Peabody is holding more drop-in sessions at the former prison between 10am and noon and 2pm to 4pm on Thursday (9 December) and from 10am to 1pm on  Saturday (11 December) for people to look at the plans.

If it wins planning permission, work is expected to start in 2022 and be finished four years later.

Peabody said between 49 and 269 permanent jobs will be created by the development.

As part of the “planning gain” agreement it would offer 51 apprenticeships on the major building site.

However the design has come under fire from some Islington residents who are set to ask the council a series of questions about it at Thursday’s full council meeting (9 December).

Topics include how the council will ensure it meets its net zero (carbon emissions) guidance.

Documents submitted with the plans set out the environmental policy for the development.

Claire Zammit plans to quiz the council on how it will ensure “the legacy of supporting women will continue” and the type of services it thinks should be offered in the women’s building for the wider community.

Other questions relate to the amount of space on offer to support women and and how the council will ensure a mix of tenure in the site off Parkhurst and Camden Roads.

More information about the plans is available here.