If you’re looking to hit the ground running this autumn now the escapism of the summer holidays is over, Holloway Prison could be the answer
Not as some kind of designer-in residence – however scary that might sound, the north London prison is actually now closed – but as a £2 billion redevelopment opportunity.
The historic women’s jail – where Suffragettes were once interned – is the first up for redevelopment in UK-wide plans to replace outdated inner-city prisons with nine new facilities elsewhere.
Property agent Bilfinger GVA has just won a Ministry of Justice contract to manage the sale of the prominent 4ha site, which is close to Finsbury Park and thought to be worth £200 million.
Expected to deliver up to 5,000 new homes, the £2 billion project will require a raft of architectural talent to succeed and now is the time to reach out to potential bidders.
Holloway’s Victorian Gothic Revival crenelated façades (pictured) were demolished and replaced with more functional buildings in the 1970s, so the designers of its residential rebirth are likely to have a reasonably blank canvas.
However, the debacle surrounding Mount Pleasant’s redevelopment – located within the same planning authority – is worth bearing in mind.
The 681-home scheme was approved by former London mayor Boris Johnson last year against the wishes of Islington Council, which criticised its shortage of affordable housing.
Islington’s former head of housing, James Murray is mayor Sadiq Khan’s housing boss, so this scheme could well come under the scrutiny of the mayor’s new Homes for Londoners board, which he says will be seeking 50 per cent affordable housing in new developments.
Meanwhile Gloucester City Council has recently started searching for a development team for its £450 million Kings Quarter scheme.
A retail-led vision for the key city centre site was scrapped earlier this year, so the winning team must instead deliver new designs focusing on high-quality housing, public realm and leisure opportunities.
Interested parties have until 12 noon on 12 September to apply.