Sadiq Khan is pushed to intervene as government implies further ‘scandalous’ delays.
The sell-off the Holloway Prison site could be delayed until early 2019, a Ministry of Justice official hinted on Monday. Europe’s first female prison was decommissioned two years ago and the £500m development site has been left empty since.
A civil servant said the developer would not be announced till “the new year” at the Prison Probation and Youth Justice Priorities panel at Kew National Archives this week.
“It’s a disgrace that public land is left unused.”
There is room for 700 affordable homes at the HMP Holloway site.
Will McMahon from Community Plan for Holloway, which campaigns to keep the ex-prison in public ownership, said “Despite Ministry of Justice claims a preferred bidder was to be agreed in Spring 2018, another delay is now on the cards. Brexit means developers have the Ministry over a barrel. Given the uncertain time we are living in, it would make much more sense to keep the land in public hands and start developing plans for much needed social housing now.”
Speaking exclusively to Islington Now, they said: “We continue to work towards the sale of the site and will always seek best value for taxpayers.”
Glyn Robbins, of Community Plan for Holloway campaign group, criticised Cllr Richard Watt’s position that any long-term council involvement didn’t represent “value for money” as being “narrow-minded”.
Mr. Robbins, however, welcomed the council’s plans to ensure 50 per cent of the homes are affordable but said that there are “101 different ways to wriggle out of” council stipulations.
He added that a visitor’s centre on site, which could have been used for a community project and house the homeless, has “scandalously” be left unused because of the government’s inaction.
Andy Bain, from Islington Homes For All, said “The London Mayor, could intervene to secure more council housing as part of his overall plan. It would be a win-win for him and the homeless of London. It’s a disgrace that public land is left unused.”
“Developers have the Ministry over a barrel”
Islington Council recently found 35 people living in one house in Highbury, only one and a half miles from the empty HMP Holloway site.
Last spring, it was reported by EG, a real estate industry publication, that a deal had been struck with developers London Square, though the development is not listed under their current projects.
Campaigners and local people may have to wait till 2019 for an announcement on the future ownership of Holloway Prison.