Squatter turns Devon Cottage into dream home... and villagers want him to stay

Tony Gosling 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

Some Great Comments (58)

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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poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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