Fate of closed Holloway Prison will be ‘test case’, warns charity ahead of possible sell off

© Copyright David Anstiss and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
Holloway Prison. Photograph: David Antis, licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

The fate of the site of the closed Holloway Prison – land which campaigners fear is likely to be sold for luxury flats – will be seen as a “test case”, the deputy director of a charity seeking locals’ views says.

Will McMahon from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies said Londoners were being invited to share ideas for the future of the land as part of his charity’s Justice Matters scheme.

He told London Citizen: “It matters to the whole country and to the whole of London how this land is used, whether it’s for building more unaffordable flats for investors or whether it becomes a place where Londoners on average incomes can afford to live in homes. In this sense, it will be a test case.”

He is meeting Green Party politician Sian Berry, a member of the London Assembly, this afternoon to discuss putting forward a “people’s plan” for the site.

Holloway Prison, which was the the biggest women’s prison in Western Europe and the only women’s prison in London, closed over the summer. It is estimated thousands of pricey flats could now be constructed in its place.

Though the government has yet to reveal what it plans to do with the land, it is thought to be looking at selling it to private developers.

McMahon recently accused the government of being “incredibly secretive” about its vision for the site, which has assumed particular political significance because it is located in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North constituency.

Earlier this year Corbyn joined protesters on a march on Holloway Prison after saying it was important it did not turn into luxury flats.

Campaign group Reclaim Holloway has also said the issue of what happens to this patch of prime inner London real estate is universal.

In a statement on its website the group declared: “If we sit back and do nothing the reality is the land will be sold to a private developer for housing that very few people can afford.

“Even if you think the future of this land in Islington won’t directly affect you, this campaign is also about taking a stand against the chronic housing crisis that is having an impact on all of us throughout our society.”

Berry has previously met with residents groups in Haringey to discuss an affordable housing vision for the St Anns Hospital site.

The Ministry of Justice has said it is in discussions with Islington Council about the future of the site.

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