London Mayor Sadiq Khan has backed plans by Islington council to ensure the redevelopment of Holloway Prison will include at least 50% “affordable housing”.
His comments are the latest development in a long-running battle over the future of the 10-acre plot, which used to be the site of western Europe’s largest women’s jail, and where up to 900 homes could be built.
“The innovative way the council are approaching things in relation to the planning brief means that at least half the homes will be affordable”, said Mr Khan, when asked about the future of the prison site, which has been derelict since its closure in 2016.
He was speaking at Islington Assembly Hall on Tuesday night at the People’s Question Time event, which was also available to watch live on the Mayor’s Facebook page.
The Mayor has already promised to direct £1 billion towards social housing in London over the next four years, with Islington set to be allocated more than £24 million.
But neither Sadiq Khan nor the Islington Council can move forward with building on the site of the former prison until the property has been sold. It is currently owned by the Ministry of Justice.
Diarmaid Ward, Islington’s Executive Member for Housing and Development, and one of the councillors responsible for the council’s plan for Holloway Prison, said: “If the government want to sell up then they need to get on with selling it, but whoever buys it needs to comply with our planning regulations.”
He went on to say that even though theoretically the site can be sold to the highest bidder, the buyer must by law comply with the council’s conditions, adding, “Our policy is 50% genuinely affordable housing and we will not budge on that.”
70% of the affordable housing must be what Cllr Ward refers to as “old school council housing”, and the remaining 30% must comply with the Mayor of London’s definition of “affordable housing”.
That definition, as Khan laid out on Tuesday, is that rent must not be more than one third of a household’s income. Shared ownership schemes also qualify as “affordable”.