We are a coalition of community groups and local people who, since 2017, have been seeking the best outcome for this once in a lifetime redevelopment of Holloway Prison. We have heard and amplified the voices of thousands of people who live in Islington, who want to see the best development possible.
We have been pleased to see some improvements in what is planned, but feel Peabody’s proposals and the consultation process are lacking in a number of areas. We hope to inspire a new, more ambitious, outcome for the project.
We have a vision of a beautiful community place, which includes sunny gardens, community growing, wildlife, all types of play spaces and community facilities.
We hope for an inspiring inclusive place where residents thrive and everyone benefits from the best possible design of homes, which actively support their well being, with the highest possible proportion being truly affordable.
The Women’s Building will play a huge role in providing essential services for women and the community. Located at the natural social centre of the development, it should be iconic and of national importance – a fitting recognition of the site’s history. It should also be flexible, serving the needs of women, at a local level and beyond, with satellite community and women-led commercial facilities.
The whole project, from demolition to operation, should demonstrate best practice environmental construction. Residents will live in a green place, built sustainably, and the design will help them to lead low impact lives.
We hope that residents, neighbours and visitors will all experience a sense of delight in our new community. They won’t feel overpowered by the buildings or the rush and crush of the city, but feel welcome; part of a vibrant, diverse and regenerative community.
Below, we describe the changes needed to the latest plans to deliver a vision that will provide a fitting legacy for the women’s prison and the best possible outcome for the community and Islington Council.
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The changes needed to provide a visionary development
Consultation: The consultation to date has been poor in terms of information provided, question asked, inclusiveness and transparent incorporation of feedback. We ask for the last stage of the consultation to be paused and drastically improved.
Site Design: The proposal for 980 homes is an over-development of the site. The visual and environmental impact on neighbours of up to 14 storey buildings will be extreme. The proposal should comply with the Council’s own Capacity Assessment, which found that even 880 homes might not be a liveable density. Building fewer homes rather than cramming the site will give truly decent homes, even if this means fewer private homes for sale.
Poor Quality Homes: About 10% of the homes will fail to meet minimum daylight requirements, and at least 5% will have a high risk of overheating. Many more will have poor views, bad air quality, difficult acoustics, and still a risk of overheating.
Maximise social housing: 42% of homes at Council Rents is welcome, but the 18% shared ownership will be unaffordable to average-income locals, who at the very least should be able to access London Living Rent. Housing tenures should avoid segregation by income to promote community cohesion.
Co-housing: There is a suggestion of housing for older people. We call for this approach to be taken much further, providing flexible intergenerational living that will help build the community.
Women’s Building: We hope for a fitting legacy meeting the needs of all women, providing vital support services locally and with a national role. The proposed plan provides insufficient space, with the result that the Women’s Building would be unable to offer like-for-like services, as described in the Council’s original Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) that framed the development. A full feasibility study is now urgently needed, to assess the minimum viable size of the building, and possible opportunities for expansion.
We think the Women’s Building should be relocated towards the centre of the site so it can form part of a new community hub, directly linking to the park and with its own garden that is not so over-looked, dark and windy.
Community Facilities: There is no clarity about the general facilities provided to support the local community. Sharing certain facilities with the Women’s Building could be possible but overall there needs to be adequate space for different needs.
Poor Quality Green Space: The proposed massive buildings mean that the public spaces will be windy and overshadowed, not the quality green space called for in the Council’s SPD. Biodiversity, beautiful gardens and roof terraces are essential for residents and neighbours.
Green construction training: As an exemplar publicly funded project there needs to be an up-front commitment to providing zero carbon skills training and jobs.
Women, construction and training: This is especially important for women. At least half of the apprenticeships should be for women, providing training in green sustainable skills.
Priority Green: No commitments have been made to confirm the environmental sustainability of the project. With such high levels of public funding, Peabody needs to declare exemplary carbon reduction targets, for construction and operation. This is important for residents, our planet and climate vulnerable people globally.
Green Transport: The site layout is dominated by roads, which goes against the Council’s push for People Friendly Streets. A rethink is needed to limit vehicle access to a minimum.