Holloway Prison: Sadiq Khan rejects calls to bid for site – but vows to help get affordable housing built
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Sadiq Khan has rejected thousands of calls to bid for the empty Holloway Prison site – but said yesterday it would be an “outrage” if it ended up as vacant luxury housing.
“There is no incentive for government departments to sell to developers who are just going to sell homes,” he said at Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall.
Private agent GVA Bilfinger has been hired by the Ministry of Justice to sell the land, which has stood empty since summer 2016. In the sale brochure, it advertises an “excellent development opportunity” and touts space for 1,000 homes – but doesn’t mention affordable housing.
Islington Council has set its own target of half the homes built being genuinely affordable, with 35pc overall being for social rent. The town hall has vowed no one will get planning permission if they can’t deliver that many.
In a council feasibility study, options of 400, 570, 720 and 880 homes were considered for the site, with calculations suggesting the 50pc target would be viable for every option. It did not say if this was also true of 1,000 homes.
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Mayor of London Mr Khan told London Assembly members yesterday: “It is crucial to me that the opportunity is taken to build as many genuinely affordable homes as possible.
“This is why my team has been working with the local council on a draft supplementary planning document which could include affordable housing and a centre supporting women in the criminal justice system.
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“I was concerned the current marketing approached a straightforward freehold disposal with the risk of the site being sold to a land banker or developer whose bid might reflect the planning guidance for the site.
“So I’ve written to the justice secretary David Lidington offering expertise from my Homes for Londoners team, and given their extensive experience on bringing forward GLA-owned sites for development, they are well placed to work with the MOJ advisers on bids.”
More than 5,000 people signed a petition calling for Mr Khan to bid for the site and protect the land for council housing. The deadline for bids was Wednesday.
Rebecca Roberts of Community Plan for Holloway told the Gazette: “The Ministry of Justice have been clear that their main concern is profit, rather than considering the needs and views of the local community.”
The MOJ could not immediately be reached for comment.