Housing association promises transparency over social housing at Holloway prison redevelopment after campaigners flag concerns

What the new development could look like

A housing association behind the redevelopment of Holloway prison has pledged to share more details of how it will fit in a second staircase without compromising the number of social homes.

Campaigners from Community Plan for Holloway took up Peabody’s offer of a visit to the council’s housing scrutiny committee to ask for more details.

Amongst their concerns was how the housing assocation will accommodate second staircases in tower blocks without losing some of the 415 social homes or cutting the number of bedrooms on the site formerly home to Europe’s largest women’s prison.

The Ministry of Justice sold the former prison site to Peabody  in 2019 and the housing association won approval to build  nearly 985 flats and create a park and a Women’s Centre to reflect the site’s history.

The £400m scheme includes 15 towers up to 14 storeys high. Six of the towers breach the council’s policy that tall buildings above 30 metres are generally inappropriate.

The scheme won planning permission before the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said all new applications for towers over 30m must have second staircases to aid evacaution in an emergency like Grenfell.

The government has proposed making this law as part of tougher safety regulations after Grenfell, but it is not yet a legal requirement.

Whilst Peabody’s north-east London managing director Tracy Packer was at the scrutiny meeting to talk about overcrowding, she pledged to communicate the revised plans for the prison site.

Caroline Royds from Community Plan for Holloway asked: “What impact does including the second staircase have on the social homes? How will this affect the size of the flats?”

Ms Packer told the committee the team “have worked with the council planning team about requirements for staircases and we have done everything that we have been asked of us. We have done what we we were asked to do to make those changes with minimal compromise of space.”

She said she would look “at how we circulate that information.”

Scrutiny committee member Rose-Marie McDonald, who is a trustee for Campaign for Holloway, said : “We want to work with you, not against you.”

As the sixth anniversary of the fatal fire at Grenfell Tower approaches, campaigners have detailed questions about the development, including about building materials and any impact of  the extra cost of building second staircases, which they welcome, on the scheme.

They also want reassurances over plans for the Women’s Centre, which is due to open in 2027 and offer support to women who have been in trouble with the law.

Peabody said the centre will be split across two floors.

Jason Jackson, who chairs the housing scrutiny committee, suggested a meeting where detailed questions could be asked about the amended plans for the Holloway Park development.