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Jeremy Corbyn: ‘Holloway Prison site is our biggest opportunity to help solve housing crisis’

PUBLISHED: 21:59 25 November 2016 | UPDATED: 21:59 25 November 2016

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a public meeting on the future of the Holloway Prison site. Picture: Polly Hancock

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a public meeting on the future of the Holloway Prison site. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Jeremy Corbyn tonight said the Holloway Prison site is the “biggest opportunity” in his 33 years as MP to help solve Islington’s housing crisis.

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a public meeting on the future of the Holloway Prison site. Picture: Polly HancockIslington North MP Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a public meeting on the future of the Holloway Prison site. Picture: Polly Hancock

The Labour Party leader and Islington North MP urged his constituents to “pull together” at a public meeting tonight.

It was called by the Centre of Crime and Justice Studies to launch a campaign for community-led development of the Parkhurst Road site, which shut as Europe’s biggest women’s prison in the summer.

Organisers made it clear that the Holloway community should campaign for whatever it wants: whether housing, sports facilities, green space, community facilities or women’s facilities in respect of the site’s prison heritage.

But unsurprisingly, housing dominated discussion. Mr Corbyn told the 150 people gathered at Williamson Street Community Centre, just down the road from the prison site: “This is the biggest opportunity in my memory of being Islington North MP to alleviate the chronic housing crisis in this area of London.

“I had always thought that at some point, this must get better. It hasn’t. Places to buy are unaffordable for 80 per cent of people in this constituency.

“We don’t need to see London damaged by more luxury housing for the few. If we can establish a plan of community benefit, with good access to community facilities, including possibly a women’s centre, this is a very big opportunity.”

Motioning passionately with his arms, Mr Corbyn concluded: “Pull it together and we can come up with something good: people living in decent housing that’s affordable, dry, energy efficient and secure to live in.”

Islington housing leader Cllr Diarmaid Ward pointed to the government's abolition of 'pay to stay' - and the Gazette's coverage of it in yesterday's paper - as an example how the community can succeed in getting what it wants on the Holloway Prison site. Picture: Polly HancockIslington housing leader Cllr Diarmaid Ward pointed to the government's abolition of 'pay to stay' - and the Gazette's coverage of it in yesterday's paper - as an example how the community can succeed in getting what it wants on the Holloway Prison site. Picture: Polly Hancock

Meanwhile, grilled on Islington Council’s role in the planning process, housing leader Cllr Diarmaid Ward said: “We have very stringent policies. For example, we’re on target to build 500 houses by 2019.

“We will be issuing a planning brief on the prison site in the spring. What strikes me about this site is that it’s a blank canvas. I would encourage input from the entire community to ensure this is a site for them.”

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