Local Liberal Democrats have voted overwhelmingly to support the cross-political community group Community Plan for Holloway. The aim of the group, created in 2016 when Holloway Prison for women closed, is to ensure the views of Islington residents are heard in deciding how the Holloway Prison site is used.
Their 2017 consultation, in which 900 people took part highlighted three priorities: green space, housing, and a women’s building.
Islington has the least green space of any borough in the country. and is desperately short of affordable housing.
Holloway Prison operated on the site just off Pankhurst Road for 160 years and became a female-only prison in 1903. It plays a symbolic role in the history of women's rights in the UK. Suffragettes were imprisoned there. Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the UK, was hanged at the Prison in 1955 following a controversial trial said to have strengthened support for the abolition of the death penalty.
When Peabody bought the site in 2019, using a loan from the Mayor of London, they made a number of pledges which reflected what had come out of the 2017consultation.
Islington Liberal Democrats share the concerns of the Community Plan for Holloway that Peabody may not fulfil its commitment to Islington residents. Accordingly, at our Annual General Meeting, on November 30th, we passed the following motion.
ISLINGTON LIBERAL DEMOCRATS note:
1) The Holloway prison site represents a unique opportunity for Peabody and Islington Council to provide a flagship vision in both community consultation on housing and the delivery of a Women’s Building to replace the services lost when the prison was closed.
2) Members of the community are worried that this opportunity will be missed if Peabody does not respond to the concerns raised by many hundreds of people in Islington.
3) On 8th March 2019, a press release from the Mayor of London stated that the £42 million loan deal requires that 60 per cent of the homes would be affordable housing of which 70 per cent will be social rent.
4) In a press release on the same day, Brendan Sarsfield, Chief executive of Peabody, stated “we are pleased to confirm we will deliver 60% level of genuinely-affordable homes”.
5) The need for an iconic Women’s building that reflects the important history and replaces the services of the prison, offering an alternative progressive model of support for all marginalised and vulnerable women.
With regard to the present plans, we note:
6) The public consultation on the site as a whole has not been adequate.
7) The present plans will lead to a dense over-developed site with tall buildings over-shadowing residents and the surrounding areas, blocking sunlight in the green spaces and a poor-quality public realm that will be excessively overshadowed and windy.
8) The excessive housing density will lead to poor quality single aspect homes with some failing to provide adequate daylight and sunlight, suffering from poor acoustics or at risk of overheating. The site layout is dominated by a road that cuts across the site taking space from the much needed central park.
9) The present design of the Women’s Building is only part of a single floor at the bottom of flats - is not iconic in any way and does not offer enough space to provide the support and services needed. It is not a fitting legacy to the women who suffered, fought and were healed at the prison.
10) The proposals make no environmental commitment or recognition of the climate emergency. As a publicly funded project, a net zero carbon pathway to 2030 should be established.
ISLINGTON LIBERAL DEMOCRATS agree:
11) That in line with LB Islington's housing policy, the social housing rent and 'genuinely-affordable housing' should be equivalent to council house rents.
12) To urge Peabody to rethink the present inadequate plans, keep to their promises and loan commitments and be bold enough to listen to what the different communities in Islington are telling them and act on their many constructive proposals.
13) We do not accept a trade-off between the women’s building and social housing; if more space is required, the number of units for private sale should be reduced to produce a scheme that is high quality and not too dense.
ISLINGTON LIBERAL DEMOCRATS resolve to:
a) Only support a final masterplan that addresses the issues outlined in points 1) to 13) above, and to call on our elected councillors to do the same.
b) Lodge objections to any plan that does not respond to the concerns in points 1) to 13) above.
c) Support the Community Plan for Holloway in its campaign to ensure that the different communities in Islington get the best possible outcome for the site.
d) Send this resolution to our elected members, those standing in the GLA elections in seats covering Islington, including the Mayor Sadiq Khan and GLA Housing lead Tom Copley, and call on them to only support a plan that represents the expressed demands of the local community as outlined above.