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Community backs council’s demands that half of homes on Holloway Prison site are ‘genuinely affordable’

PUBLISHED: 06:00 07 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:07 07 December 2017

Protestors marching on Holloway Prison last year to demand the prison site be replaced by council housing and community facilities. A majority have now backed Islington town hall's wishlist for the site, which includes 50 per cent 'genuinely affordable' housing. Picture: Ken Mears

Protestors marching on Holloway Prison last year to demand the prison site be replaced by council housing and community facilities. A majority have now backed Islington town hall's wishlist for the site, which includes 50 per cent 'genuinely affordable' housing. Picture: Ken Mears

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More than 500 people have backed the council’s demand that half of the homes built on the Holloway Prison site should be “genuinely affordable”.

Protestors marching on Holloway Prison last year to demand the prison site be replaced by council housing and community facilities. A majority have now backed Islington town hall's wishlist for the site, which includes 50 per cent 'genuinely affordable' housing. Picture: Ken MearsProtestors marching on Holloway Prison last year to demand the prison site be replaced by council housing and community facilities. A majority have now backed Islington town hall's wishlist for the site, which includes 50 per cent 'genuinely affordable' housing. Picture: Ken Mears

The town hall received a record number of responses in support of its draft planning document, which warns developers hoping to make a huge profit they won’t do so by skimping on affordable housing.

At more than four hectares, the publically-owned land in Parkhurst Road is one of the biggest development sites in central London and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said it plans to make as much money as possible from it. But council chiefs argue “the duty to achieve best value for the site does not outweigh the need to meet planning requirements”.

“Genuinely affordable” is an alternative to affordable rent, which isn’t really affordable for most people in London. It could mean social rent, London Living Rent (where a household pays no more than a third of its total salary) or shared ownership.

"The history of the prison will be familiar to all who fight for social justice. Today, this community is fighting for decent housing."

Cllr Diarmaid Ward

The draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) is the first by any local authority to include a capacity assessment and viability study.

Two out of three people said they agreed with the council’s housing objectives for the site, and 86pc agreed with the demands for open space.

More than 80pc backed calls for community use, with a women’s centre high on the list. Holloway, which closed last year, had been the largest women’s prison in Europe.

Holloway was Europe's largest women's prison until it shut last year. Picture: Ken MearsHolloway was Europe's largest women's prison until it shut last year. Picture: Ken Mears

Islington housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward said: “The history of the 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.

“High levels of genuinely affordable housing are essential for the future of Islington.

“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 it be used to benefit the community.

The jail had housed 500 women. Picture: Ken MearsThe jail had housed 500 women. Picture: Ken Mears

“We hope this will deter developers from overpaying and then arguing about the level of affordable housing.”

The council is still walking tall off the back of a landmark case. Earlier this year the Planning Inspectorate ruled in its favour after First Base Ltd tried to push through a project on the former Territorial Army Centre, also in Parkhurst Road, with no affordable homes.

The decision was that developers cannot claim they have no money for affordable homes simply because they overpaid for a site.

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