Another NO for Pentonville Prison flats redevelopment

Wellington Mews blocks have stood empty for years

Friday, 14th May 2021 — By Calum Fraser

WhatsApp Image 2021-05-13 at 14.11.58

Wellington Mews 

DEVELOPERS were knocked back again this week in a proposal that would allow them to redevelop a block of flats next to Pentonville Prison without having to include social housing.

Islington’s planning officers rejected several applications by a property firm for “certificates of lawfulness” which would allow them to redevelop the Wellington Mews blocks – formerly home to jail staff – without applying for full planning permission.

It is the second time LGP Wellington Mews Ltd has applied for the certificates as it is understood that a deal with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to buy the blocks hangs on whether it can secure them.

Without the certificates, the council’s planning policy kicks in – meaning 50 per cent of homes in a develop­ment of over 10 units should be affordable.

Wellington Mews consists of two four-storey blocks with 28 flats, most of which are three or four-bedroom family units.

Islington Council had negotiated with the MoJ to lease the blocks in 2019 and use them to help house people on the council’s 14,000-long waiting list.

But the deal fell through at the last minute. Campaign group Islington Homes for All held a protest at Wellington Mews with Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn after the Tribune reported on the case last month.

Morag Gillie, IHFA’s co-chairwoman, said: “I am furious. This was on the brink of being handed over to Islington Council and anybody who works in housing knows that three to four-bedroom flats are like gold dust in London. There are desperate families spending years in crowded accommodation because of lack of available homes.

“It’s sickening that money is being put before people’s suffering and hardship. Why don’t the MoJ do the decent thing and hand the public land and flats over to the council?”

It is understood that the crux of the land use application hangs on whether the flats are linked to Pentonville Prison or if they have been used by other tenants.

In an application for a certificate of lawfulness, the developers quote Gareth David Thomas, the MoJ’s Central Estates Team Contract Lead and Central Team surveyor, who said: “There is no functional link between Wellington Mews and the prison. The prison operated without any prison officers residing at Wellington Mews since October 2018.”

But in her letter of refusal, service director Karen Sullivan told the developers’ agents, DP9, that there is “insufficient information to demonstrate past use of the property as a self-contained single-dwelling house”.

IHFA plan to protest outside the flats again in the coming days.

The Tribune contacted DP9 for comment but a spokeswoman said they would not be provide one.

The MoJ said that further “updates” will be provided in “due course”.

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