Practice sent back to the drawing board to amend Peabody’s 1,000-home redevelopment at former Holloway Prison site

AHMM has been sent back to the drawing board to add second staircases to a project in London for the third time.

The practice has revised internal layouts of two blocks in the first phase of its 1,000-home redevelopment of the former Holloway Prison site in Islington.

Amendments submitted to the council by the scheme’s developer Peabody are expected to be approved by the local planning committee next week.

The controversial six-block scheme has already had a turbulent planning history since it was submitted in November 2021.

Located on the site of the former Holloway women’s prison, once western Europe’s largest women’s prison before its closure in 2016, the scheme would see the construction of a public park and 985 homes in buildings up to 14 storeys.

Peabody Holloway Women's building from Parkhurst Road

The scheme has is located on the site of what used to be Western Europe’s largest women’s prison

A decision on the plans was deferred by the council in February 2022 amid a furious backlash from nearby residents over the height of some of the proposed buildings.

This came after it had already been redesigned to reduce the height of some blocks and expand the size of a women’s centre on the site. 

AHMM had also appointed an all female team led by a ‘gender equality champion’ after campaigners attacked the proposals for not sufficiently reflecting the site’s heritage.

It was eventually approved by Islington in August 2022, and demolition of the site’s buildings was completed by December last year with the exception of a visitor centre.

Peabody has now chosen to bring the scheme into line with the government’s proposed changes to fire safety regulations, requiring residential buildings above 18m in height to have a second means of escape.

It is the third major scheme in the capital which AHMM has redesigned since the changes were first announced, initially for buildings above 30m, at the end of 2022. 

The practice has previously amended its plans for the 1,800-home 02 shopping centre redevelopment in Camden for Landsec, and a twin-tower scheme in Canada Water for British Land.

Peabody has also been overhauling several of its major schemes across London. In March last year it said it may have to redesign as many as 20 of its tower schemes.

While the transitional arrangements set out by the government in October last year allow for developers to continue their consented developments with only one staircase during the transitional period, Islington council said Peabody has chosen to comply with the new requirements on the Holloway Prison site.

The revisions have resulted in cuts to the number of bed spaces in some of the scheme’s larger apartments, the number of wheelchair dwellings, the number of cycle parking spaces and the area of flexible commercial space.

AHMM’s approach to the changes has been to enlarge the cores of the two affected buildings so they incorporate staircases either side of a central corridor

Inmates at the former prison have included Moors murderer Myra Hindley and Diana Mitford, wife of the 1930s fascist leader Oswald Mosley. 

Five women were executed there including Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be judicially hanged in Britain. Oscar Wilde was also an inmate before it became a women’s prison.