Plans in for 25-person winter homeless shelter at former Holloway Prison visitors’ centre

The former Holloway Prison site. Picture: PA

The former Holloway Prison site. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Plans have been submitted to transform the old visitors’ centre at Holloway Prison into a 24-hour winter homeless shelter for 25 people.

Housing Association Peabody, which bought the site from the Ministry of Justice earlier this year for £82million, wants to use the first floor of the building as a shelter for six months while it prepares its application to redevelop the land.

The planning application says it is hoped the shelter will open next month or in December, once a charity provider has been selected.

When the shelter was first proposed in May Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn said it was "absolutely essential" the plans went ahead.

Guests would be referred by outreach teams and given a bed, breakfast, dinner and clothes, as well as use of showers and laundry rooms. It would feature male and female dorms, bathrooms, a space for dining or activities and an open plan kitchen.

Islington's housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward said: "The number of people sleeping rough has soared right across London as a decade of austerity continues to leave its mark.

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"It's vital that the council works with the whole community and takes every opportunity to utilise empty buildings in our fight to end homelessness."

The planning papers state there would also be a dedicated women's area in recognition of the fact Islington has a higher than average proportion of females sleeping rough - many of them victims of exploitation, assault and deprivation.

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Two staff would be on site at all times and walk-ins would not be allowed. Outreach workers would continue to offer support throughout a guest's stay, and they would have to sign a code of conduct.

The shelter, which would also include five emergency beds for freezing temperatures, would be vital given the rise in rough sleeping, with Islington seeing the fifth highest increase in the capital. At the official homeless count in November 43 people were registered as sleeping rough.

The town hall is working with Camden Council on the initiative, after the two collaborated on a shelter in Camden last winter.

Plans for the wider site include building 1,000 homes, with more than 400 at social rent.

Sadiq Khan loaned Peabody £42m from the Mayor's Land Fund in March to buy the site. A minimum 60 per cent of all properties on the land will be classified as "genuinely affordable": at social rent, for shared ownership, or at Mr Khan's "London living rent" rate.

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