Heathrow squatters ruling ‘could change housing law’…
Heathrow 3rd runway squatters granted eviction appeal on human rights grounds
‘Grow Heathrow’, a squatted community garden project in the Heathrow Villages, West London, was this morning granted the right to appeal against eviction on human rights grounds. This follows a two day hearing for possession which took place on the 18th & 19th June. The owners of the site are seeking possession of the land which would remove the community project in the process despite the overwhelming support the squatters have received.
Honorary Judge Karen Walden-Smith took on board arguments from the defendants around the right to respect for the home, under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. She upheld this right in the case describing the project as “much loved and well used” by the local community, despite arguments from the claimants that this right did not apply to squatters. While she ruled in favour of the owners, she agreed that the group should not be evicted without their human rights case being heard in the Court of Appeal. Grow Heathrow are asking for donations to support the costs of lodging an appeal to be made through the website.
‘Grow Heathrow’ first took over the former-market garden site on Vineries Close, Sipson, in March 2010 after years of neglect which caused social problems in the area. Local residents and the Transition Heathrow group cleared up the land, removing 30 tonnes of rubbish, and set up the site as a community-hub and market garden. The project came out of protests against Heathrow’s planned 3rd runway and the site sits directly in the path of where the 3rd runway would have been built.
Speaking outside court, May Mackenzie, Grow Heathrow resident said:
“We are delighted by this opportunity to challenge current laws which allow landlords to leave land empty and abused. At Grow Heathrow, we are taking back control of our lives by bringing a derelict piece of land back into use for the benefit of the community. We will also continue to try and persuade the owners to sell the land to a community land trust owned by the local community”.
John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, who appeared as a witness in the case said:
“Grow Heathrow have taken a derelict site that has caused local residents numerous problems and transformed it into a beautiful area, serving the whole community. I urge the owners to drop this case and let Grow Heathrow remain or failing this I appeal to the court to allow them to stay.”
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Lib-Dem member of the House of Lords) said:
“Grow Heathrow is about a living, sustainable, community based future. We should be enabling projects like this not closing them down. Growing food, cooking it and eating together is the glue that has held societies together – we need a lot more of it, not less.”
A statement of support from local residents’ group Harmondsworth and Sipson Residents Association (HASRA) said:
“The people involved with this project (Grow Heathrow) have transformed the site.
In the process they have created a much-needed community hub for local people who have spent years living under threat of destruction due to proposals for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Their tireless efforts and support have regenerated enthusiasm for community working that inspires the many people who visit.”