Letter on Holloway Prison site development

An artist's impression of what the former Holloway Prison site could look like 

An artist's impression of what the former Holloway Prison site could look like - Credit: Peabody

Prison site housing plan could be more visionary 

Jonathan Ward, member of Community Plan for Holloway, writes: 

Peabody is running a second consultation on the redevelopment of Holloway Prison. Apparently consultation has been extended until about August 6. Please do go online and give your views. The general response is that there are still many shortcomings: 

  • The consultation fails to give important information on the design and quality of the homes. The density of the site means that tens of social and private homes will fail to receive adequate daylight. It appears that many dwellings facing Camden Road and all the elderly care accommodation are single aspect and so prone to overheating. Many more are not true dual aspect and so won’t have good cross ventilation - which is so important for our hot summers, and required by planning policy. 
  • The number of homes proposed is not clear, which is highly surprising given the concerns expressed that the previous proposal of 1050 flats being too dense. Careful inspection confirms that 980 flats are proposed which is worrying as the council’s own Capacity Study found that even 880 flats would be overdevelopment, creating poor living conditions for residents.
The masterplanning team for the Holloway Prison redevelopment is led by award-winning architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

The Holloway Prison redevelopment by architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris - Credit: Peabody

  • The excessive density of the proposal creates unacceptable overshadowing of the park and open spaces access and major wind downdrafts which are unaddressed. Many mature trees are shown, including on roofs, which is highly unlikely to be representative of the initial planting scheme. This site has amazing potential for community growing and even community-led maintenance, but this opportunity is unaddressed. We look to Peabody to come up with a visionary plan for the green spaces. 
  • Little improvement has been proposed for the facilities offered in the shared Community and Women's’ Building and its heavily overshadowed and windy rear garden. It is being referred to as a building, but it is only two floors of accommodation under tall residential blocks, located at the noisy and polluted front of the site and separated by a high wall from the play area and central public open space. There is no further confirmation of how this facility will be managed or funded. The proposal fails to offer a vision for a Living Legacy that commemorates the site and provides diverse support to women especially
  • Members of CP4H have expressed concern over the extent of the two-way roadway, which disappointingly has increased in the proposal. Expert guidance suggests that this can be reduced, using Home Zone design features. The council needs to insist on full implementation of their own visionary People Friendly Streets principles to make this a showcase of car-free development. 
The former Holloway Prison site.

An aerial view of the former Holloway Prison site is being redeveloped. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

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This is such a missed opportunity to create a new community in West Holloway, supported by a vibrant range of facilities for our diverse community. Due to the environmental challenges at the front of the site, calls are increasing for all the community facilities to be arranged around a beautiful new car-free park and play area.

We were waiting for a positive statement of ambitious environmental targets for the project, in terms of construction and operational carbon emissions especially.

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 Unfortunately, the document confirms nothing - in our climate emergency this is inexcusable.  And we still await commitment to green construction training related to this site, particularly including women.

And finally, we still struggle to understand what this major development of 14 apartment blocks up to 14 storeys high will actually look like. There are no long views from the surrounding streets showing the proposal in context, to allow neighbours and the wider community to understand the impact of the project. Reduction in building heights is mentioned, but in some cases the building heights have increased, up to 14 storeys, which flies in the face of current council policy.

We are still looking for Peabody to bring forward a visionary plan for this site that will activate and strengthen the local community.

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