Sneak eviction during climate camp

Bowl Court was evcited during climate camp week by high court bailiffs. More details soon.


Squatters battle with property giant over historic site

One of Europe’s biggest property firms is fighting squatters over a derelict Victorian workshop in a swathe of land it plans to redevelop in east London.

The seven full-time squatters, who say they want to protect the historic building, have won the support of conservation groups. But Hammerson, which has a portfolio worth £7.3 billion, is determined to force them out.

Squatters at derelict Victorian workshop

Today the squatters told how they are running a programme of community events including film nights and debates at 6 Bowl Court.

Jim Hubbard, 27, a gardener who moved in at Easter, said: “This was once a really nice historic street but No 6 is all that’s left. It’s been here for more than 150 years and is an important part of London’s history. It would be a tragedy if it was replaced with glass and steel blocks, which you can see all over the world.

“We can’t beat the developers but we want to persuade them to let the community use this place. If we are booted out it will sit here for years just decaying.”

Squatters at derelict Victorian workshop

Bowl Court is in a parcel of land east of Shoreditch High Street. Hammerson plans to redevelop the area in a scheme named Bishop’s Place, including a 51-storey tower, shops, offices, flats and a hotel.

It has planning permission to redevelop Bowl Court into offices, as long as it preserves the workshop. Its application for the wider Bishop’s Place scheme is expected to come before planners later this year.

Conservationists fear the building may not survive the redevelopment. “It’s isolation makes it look very vulnerable”, said Heloise Brown, an adviser to the Victorian Society, adding: “Buildings like this are a physical record of the development of the East End. To destroy them is to strip London of its past.

Squatters at derelict Victorian workshop

“The building next door was demolished without conservation area consent some years ago and there is a lot of pressure on this site.”

Bill Parry-Davies, from campaign group Open Shoreditch, said some local people were concerned at the spread of the City eastwards: “Bishop’s Place is the first of several steps by powerful commercial interests to redefine the City’s northern boundary, but in a crude and very destructive fashion,” he said.

Councillor Guy Nicholson, Hackney’s cabinet member for regeneration, said the area’s history as a furniture-making district in the 1850s had left Shoreditch with buildings full of character.

He added: “It is essential that development is managed in a way that encourages continuing economic activity in the City fringe while protecting the architectural legacy that makes the area so successful.”

Hammerson owns Brent Cross and a series of developments in Bishopsgate and the Docklands, and is drawing up a redevelopment around Victoria station.

Project director Joanna Axon said it had a possession order against the squatters. It is not known when it plans to evict them. She added: “We have taken the measure to remove the squatters from the building as it is not suitable for occupation. We are securing the building as a precautionary measure, while we consider our proposals for the site.”

Victorian Society express fear for future

A visit from the Victorian Society has resulted in a press release in which they express their fear for the future of 6 Bowl Court, left it to fall apart in recent years by its owners. The Victorian Society came to inspect the building and look at the damage already caused by years of deliberate neglect. Hammerson, the owners, would clearly like to be able to clear the entire site for their massive skyscrapers but planning consent has already been refused. Were the building to be left derelict and rotting for long enough they might then be able to justify demolition.

Growing fears for Shoreditch’s industrial heritage -17 June 2008

News that a Victorian workshop in the Shoreditch High Street Conservation Area may soon be boarded up and left to rot has been met with alarm by the Victorian Society, which fears that the move could lead to the building’s demolition.

One of a fast-decreasing number of nineteenth century buildings linked to Shoreditch’s furniture-making past, 6 Bowl Court retains much of its original character and features, including paired taking-in doors on the second floor and a simple beam hoist. Although thought to be late-Victorian, evidence suggests that the building may contain parts of an earlier structure. Its neighbour, 5 Bowl Court, was demolished without conservation area consent some time between 2004 and 2006. Now campaigners fear that the eviction of squatters from the building could mark the first stage in the eventual destruction of 6 Bowl Court and herald the erasure of yet more of the East End’s industrial heritage.

‘We’re very worried about 6 Bowl Court,’ said Heloise Brown, Conservation Adviser of the Victorian Society. ‘An intriguing building which adds a great deal of character to Shoreditch, the workshop is a valuable part of the High Street Conservation Area. Buildings like this are a physical record of the development of the East End. To destroy them is to strip London of its past.’

Boul Court Court Case Lost

Predictably, Hammersons goons have been awarded possession of 6 Bowl Court in todays court hearing and costs awarded against the defendants. More details to follow. Look out for meetings to discuss what we’ll do next.



In Court Today (4th June)

On 4th June at Gee Street Magistrates Court, property giant Hammerson via their front company RT Group Property Investments Ltd, will seek possession of not just our lovely squatted victorian warehouse in Bowl Court but also over half a dozen other neighbouring properties, many of which have existing occupiers with long term leases or other title. This crazy situation sees us, squatters, defending those neighbours against the possibility of eviction.