Battlelines drawn in city squat eviction

Massimo A. Allamandola suburbanstudio at
Wed Jun 4 13:09:10 BST 2008

Battlelines drawn in city squat eviction

On the front line of Londons expanding city fringe, opposing sides are
squaring up for battle. On 4th June at Gee Street Magistrates Court,
property giant Hammerson will seek a possession order on a Victorian
warehouse that has been left empty and open to the elements since
attempts to gain consent to demolish the building failed.

Located in the Shoreditch High Street Conservation Area, the warehouse
at 6 Bowl Court has been occupied and run as an autonomous social
centre since March. Having fixed the gaping holes in the roof and
replacing the stairs previously removed to discourage squatters, the
group has been putting on non commerical events such as films
screenings, concerts, art exhibitions and public meetings. Perhaps it
is the later which has drawn the wrath of Hammerson as the social
centre has hosted discussions relating to the campaigns against
Hammerson massive development plans for the Shoreditch area.

The group running the community space attempted to initiate
negotiations over the building which Hammerson have indicated they
have no immediate plans for but the property giant has refused to
engage. It is clear that the future consent for demolition of the
classic east end warehouse would be much easier to obtain without
people actively looking after the building which had previously been
left to rot. No doubt the company would also prefer that their
property didn't become a hub for community resistance against their
future plans.

More than 5,000 people have already signed petitions against Hammerson
plans to demolish the popular Light bar next to the Bishops Place
development. Other challenges facing Hammerson include the residents
of North Folgate declaring themselves an independent self governed
parish after discovery that the ancient autonomous liberty may never
have been abolished.

The eviction of the social centre may backfire for Hammerson as its
users focus their energy on campaigns against the development plans
rather than maintaining the building and providing a non commercial
venue for community activities.

Using a front company called RT Group Property Investments Ltd,
Hammerson are trying to pull a fast one with their repossession claim.
They've including not just the property which has been squatted but
also about half a dozen other fronting Shoreditch High Street, many of
which are occupied by people with tenancies or leases. Attempting to
apply a trespass claim on such premises is a blatant abuse of process
but the people in those properties are unaware of the threat as the
court papers have only been served on the squatters.

Tomorrows court case will therefore see the unusual situation of
squatters defending those with tenancies and other titles from the
threat of unlawful eviction. Should the company get away with their
dastardly duplicity, it will put them on the fast track to clearing a
vast block of land for their hideous skyscraper plans.

Social centre website =

Local campaign portal site =

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list