Holloway prison neighbours fear new flats will be too high

The view of the site from Penderyn Way.

The view of the site from Penderyn Way. - Credit: Julia Gregory

Some of the former Holloway prison’s nearest neighbours say a new block of flats being planned as part of a multi-million pound redevelopment will tower over their homes and limit their light.

Housing association Peabody aims to build 985 flats in buildings up to 14 storeys high on the former prison site – with 415 of the flats available for social rent.

The scheme also includes a women’s centre, public parks, and space for community use.

The prison closed in 2016 and the site was sold off for £81.5m in 2019.

A decision on the plan was deferred by Islington Council last month and is recommended to be passed at this week’s meeting.

High profile inmates of the prison – Europe’s largest women’s jail –  included Ruth Ellis, who was the last woman to be hanged, and child murderers Myra Hindley and Rose West.

People living in Penderyn Way, off Carleton Road, fear that two of the proposed towers will affect their light.

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Their Tufnell Park homes are 19 metres away from the prison and they said the smallest block planned nearby will be three times the height of their homes.

The terraced houses there were once homes for prison staff.

One long-term resident, Ken, said: “We will not be able to sit in our living room without the lights on. We will be overlooked by this project.”

He fears the impact it could have on people’s wellbeing: “Even when the prison has gone, it will still feel like you are in a prison.”

Kristian Sotiroff said: “Most houses around here are three or four storeys. This will tower over everything.”

He added: “It’s going to stick out like a sore thumb.”

He explained that residents in Penderyn Way and Trecastle Way will lose light in their shared communal garden.

“It would be nice to see the prison going. It’s not the most beautiful but it would be better to replace it with something fitting, the fear is it will be a behemoth.”

Peabody was approached for comment.

Concerns over daylight and the scale of the building were not part of the reason the planning committee deferred the decision.

Issues included the number of homes available at London Living Rent, facilities for residents and what will be on offer for teenagers, and the mix of housing – after campaigners said very few market homes would be on the busy Camden and Parkhurst Roads at the front of the former prison.

Peabody said it has provided a range of activities for teenagers, and the community space will be offered to residents one day a week.

It also said it has increased the amount of homes for sale on Camden and Parkhurst Road to 29 per cent from seven per cent.

There were also worries about how the fitting-out and running costs of the Women’s Centre, designed to support women who have been in prison, would be paid for.

Peabody said it is offering the building at a peppercorn rent and usually whoever takes over the building would pick up the tab for fitting it out – in this case, £2.9m.

The council said it could be funded by the community infrastructure levy, but that is not something the planning committee can decide and a report said Peabody should take “all practical steps” to raise the money.

Meanwhile the Community Plan for Holloway wrote to London Mayor Sadiq Khan about their concerns.

Signatories including Helen Pankhurst – whose Suffragette leader great-grandmother staged hunger strikes in the jail – called on the mayor to support their aim for more space for the women’s building.

Islington Council’s planning committee is expected to pass the plans.