Southwark, London: Interview with occupiers of the residential building on Park Street

Nestled in a quiet street between the river and Borough Market, surrounded by expensive butchers, wine bars and offices for start-up PR companies and various institutional offshoots of the Globe Theatre sits 21-23 Park Street. The nearly 200 year old building originally housed managers at the nearby Anchor Brewery, but was sold to Southwark Council who used it as part of their housing stock.

The building made headlines last week as news that the council was auctioning off the property with a reserve of  £2.25 million earned it the title of “the most expensive council house in Britain”. On Monday, just as news that the property had been sold for  £2.96 million began circulating, it also became clear that the building had been occupied by local residents, some of whom are part of a new mutual support group called Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth, in an attempt to prevent the sale of yet more public housing. Having attempted to identify a number of possible offences, it became clear that police had no legal recourse to arrest the occupants, and they left. [Read More]

Southwark, London: Residential occupation in protest of council housing sell-off and Section 144

Housing activists have occupied a property owned by Southwark council which was due to be auctioned today at a starting price of £2.3 million.

They have occupied the building to stop the sell-off of yet more public housing stock when the borough faces a severe housing crisis with almost 25,000 people on the housing waiting list and increasing numbers of people forced to sleep rough on London’s streets.

The occupation is also a challenge to section 114 of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) introduced last September which criminalised squatting in residential properties. This law has meant that homeless people seeking shelter in empty buildings can find themselves with a prison sentence. [Read More]