Squatter turns Devon Cottage into dream home... and villagers want him to stay
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Jan 20 22:17:28 GMT 2011
Squatter moves into 'Eyesore Cottage' and turns
it into a dream home... and villagers want him to stay
By Daily Mail Reporter - Last updated at 11:06 AM on 20th January 2011
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They rally round to pay court costs as he fights eviction bid from owner
When a squatter moves in next door, the
neighbours are usually the first to complain.
But villagers made an exception for Bill Davies
when he took up residence in an empty rundown
cottage and then turned it into a dream home.
Now they are backing him and raising funds to pay
his court costs because he faces eviction from the property.
Mr Davies, a builder, moved into the property in
Harberton, Devon, last summer. The house had been
empty for several decades and was so neglected it
was nicknamed 'Eyesore Cottage'.
Now it is freshly painted, has a a tub of pansies
on the window sill and the villagers could not be happier.
But the owner, a woman who does not live in the
area, was said to be distraught to learn a
stranger is living in the property and will try
to have him evicted at a court hearing on Friday.
Dozens of villagers have now signed a petition
calling for Mr Davies to be allowed to stay while
others have contributed to his estimated court costs of £150.
As well as a petition, Mr Davies has also filmed
messages of support from people which he is
hoping to show at the court hearing.
'The village want me to go to court because
they're fed up with the cottage being empty,' he said.
Regulars in the local pub, the Church House Inn,
are backing Mr Davies and are desperate for him to be allowed to stay.
Landlady Jenny Wright, said virtually all her
customers were behind him. 'The owners of the
cottage have simply abandoned it,' she added.
'They haven't lived there for 30 years - nor even
visited for 17 years. It is right in the heart of
the village and had become terribly run down.
'I wrote to the owner several times to try and
get it repaired and smartened up - but without result.
'So I was glad to see Mr Davies move in and
improve it. Squatting may be illegal but it's
criminal to let a dwelling like that go to ruin -
especially with the need for housing there is these days.'
Harberton is in the South Hams, where house
prices are the most expensive in Devon and the
issue of empty homes is a contentious one.
One local resident who did not want to be named
said: 'People are happy to see the house being
used rather than just getting left derelict.'
Mr Davies claimed he has not done any damage by
squatting in the property and said he was keen to
come to an arrangement with the owner to pay her rent.
But the owner's son said the house had belonged
to his grandfather who died in 1975 and they are
determined to press ahead with the court case.
'I find it horrible that someone can just break
into a property and live in it,' he said.
He agreed that the house was in a state of
disrepair but said: 'How would people feel if it was their property?'
The Empty Homes Agency estimates that nationally
there are 290,224 homes which have been empty for more than six months.
Across the South West that figure is about
22,000, with about 600 of those in the South Hams.
In 2010 South Hams District Council launched its
Empty Homes Strategy to try to increase the stock
of affordable housing and prevent long-term empty
homes from falling into disrepair.
Mr Davies, who was living in a caravan before he
moved into the house was asked what he would do
if he ends up being evicted. 'You just have to be
optimistic don't you?' he said.
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"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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