Media

Check out the London Indymedia freespaces topic for reports related to Bowl Court Social Centre and other squat related stories.

Also check out recent and archive coverage about the Hammerson redevelopment plans and the campaigns against them.

The Victorian Society has released a press release concerning 6 Bowl Court and the future of the building. This can be found on their website http://www.victorian-society.org.uk/

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 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.’

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Bowl Court attracted some national press coverage during our launch event (copied below) and we’ve not yet even attempt to exploit our position to leverage useful coverage on behalf of the campaign against the Hammerson developments.

‘Estate agents’ offer empty homes for squat

By MILES GOSLETT

Published in the Daily Mail and Evening Standard
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/mortgages/article.html?in_article_id=440894&in_page_id=8
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-562325/Estate-agents-offer-homes-squat.html

At first glance, they are the sort of glossy particulars you would find in the window of any estate agent’s. But, on closer inspection, most of the properties on offer ‘boast’ some rather unusual features – such as boarded-up windows, possession orders and no front-door entrance.

The homes are being offered by Squatters Estate Agents, which has set up a ‘shop’ in a derelict warehouse near the gleaming office buildings of the City of London.

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squats‘Shop’ front: The estate agent’s premises in Shoreditch, Central London

The new service is advertised on anti-capitalist websites and prospective ‘tenants’ are directed to the premises – squatted, of course – in the Shoreditch area of the capital.

A reporter from this newspaper met James, an ‘agent’ in his late 20s, wearing jeans, a T- shirt and several days’ stubble, who guided us through the details of dozens of ‘ available properties’ on printed sheets produced using a digital camera and a computer.

He explained that the service was free and designed to guide others like him into new digs.

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squats
squats

On the agency’s ‘books’ are scores of former pubs, abandoned flats and houses, derelict council properties and empty buildings owned by Government departments.

One squat up for grabs is a former JobCentre in East London, owned by the Department for Work and Pensions and described – in perfect estate agentspeak – as a ‘huge brick building of mansion-like proportions with two side wings and a covered rear extension’.

Its proximity to a canal and a Lidl supermarket are highlighted. But in a piece of advice you would be unlikely to find in most agents’ literature, it adds: “Access looks relatively easy… round the back.”

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squats

Another hot property is Bedford House, Wheler Street, near the squatters’ office.

Pitched as a “beautiful large building”, it boasts a “red brick, stone and terracotta facade” noted as being “architecturally significant”.

The blurb adds: “It’s a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street and close to trendy Shoreditch and Brick Lane. It used to be an art gallery but has been empty for quite a while now.”

“According to Land Registry records, the vast Bedford House was bought by a company called Islepark Limited in 2005.

Its owners could not be contacted.

James said: “There is an enormous amount of unused property in London and other parts of the country.

“The Government keeps talking about the need to build millions of new houses to cope with the housing shortage – but we’re proving they’re wrong.

“They could turn existing empty buildings into new houses instead.”

The ‘agents’ – Britain’s first group dedicated to sidestepping the property ladder – are briefed in civil law so they can tell their clients that squatting in England and Wales is, technically, not a crime, so long as the squatters can get into an empty building without damaging it, and are able to secure it.

Quoting from charity the Empty Homes Agency, they claim there are 30,000 vacant dwellings in London alone.

All of the advertised properties carry the warning: “Your home is at risk if you do not keep up your occupancy at all times and replace any existing locks secured on it.”

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squatsSquatters Estate Agents are trained in civil law and tell their clients that squatting is technically not a crime, so long as the squatters can get into the building without damaging it, and are able to secure it

Richard West, who owns a former pub in East London being advertised by the squatters, said he was unaware that it faces becoming a squat.

He said: “Thank you for the tip. I’ll have to secure it. Ultimately, though, anyone who wants to squat there can do and there’s little I can do about it until we get planning permission. Squatters have more rights than you’d think.'”

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