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Battlelines drawn in city squat eviction

gerrard | 03.06.2008 22:24 | 2008 Days Of Action For Autonomous Spaces | Free Spaces | History | Social Struggles | London

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.

... more photos on the squat's back yard fence ...
... more photos on the squat's back yard fence ...

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 =



Hide the following 2 comments

WOW!!! Big players and against little fish...

03.06.2008 23:11

A 7.5 billion pound property giant vs an open collective of squatters? That's a proper David vs Goliath story. If this is strong out it could become a mini McLibel.

Bring it on!

unite and fight


05.06.2008 11:57

Is no one planning a counter action other than defending the space?