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Now half of homes affordable, Holloway TA site development gets green light

'A clear signal to developers that they cannot wriggle out of their responsibility to build social housing by overpaying for land'

24 July, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

CONSTRUCTION work will finally begin on nearly 50 new units of social housing at a site in Holloway after years of hardball stopped developers from concentrating on the private market.

Councillors unanimously approved plans to redevelop the old Territorial Army Centre in Parkhurst Road, Holloway, on Tuesday evening. It will mean building six blocks of flats ranging from three to six storeys and the creation of 118 homes.

Half of the homes are to be designated for affordable housing, split roughly 70/30 between social rent and shared ownership arrangements.

The decision should mark the end of a six-year planning saga for the site formerly owned by the Ministry of Defence. Islington’s councillors defended themselves in planning appeals and High Court after refusing to allow a scheme, which would have seen just 15 percent of the homes designated as affordable.

The sequence of events could be used as test case for developers who say their proposals would be unviable without reducing the numbers of cheaper homes.

All local authorities are bracing themselves for requests to renegotiate planning permissions due to the changing market conditions and coronavirus crisis fallout.

Islington’s housing chief Councillor Diarmaid Ward said: “After seven years, two awful planning applications from a previous owner and a High Court ruling, I am delighted that Islington’s planning committee has approved a new 50 per cent genuinely affordable homes scheme for Parkhurst Road.”

He added: “We’ve sent a clear signal to developers that they cannot wriggle out of their responsibility to build social housing by overpaying for land. Imagine how quickly we could tackle the housing crisis if this government stopped selling off public land at every opportunity. On Holloway Prison and Parkhurst Road we’ve used our planning powers to fight for desperately needed social rent homes.”

Diarmaid Ward

The new social rent homes will be run by the Islington & Shoreditch Housing Association, it was said at the meeting on Tuesday night. When the TA moved out, the Ministry of Defence sold the site for £13 million.

Developers, Parkhurst Road Ltd, argued the cost of buying it had prohibited options on providing affordable housing.

Designs for a 112-home development came forward, but were rejected by the council due to concerns that only 16 of the flats would be for social rent or shared ownership.

The planning inspectorate threw out an appeal. Further legal attempts to get the scheme through failed in the High Court.

The development is now in the hands of Fairview. Its director of planning Mark Jackson said: “Despite the current crisis Fairview is committed to delivering on this scheme and should members be minded to grant planning permission we would expect to start construction later in the year. “The first homes could actually be available by the autumn next year and a majority of homes completed in 2022.”

The scheme has received 43 objections with neighbours in the nearby Moriatry Close complaining of loss of light and privacy.

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