Historic Hackney mansion turned into a ‘drinking den’ by squatters
- Credit: Archant
Squatters who set up a “community centre” at one of Hackney’s most historic buildings were evicted after developers secured a High Court order.
Although 10 squatters originally occupied the Grade II listed Georgian mansion at 195 Mare Street in August, around 25 were evicted by enforcement officers at dawn on Monday despite their attempts to barricade themselves in.
Jim Casey, owner of construction company CS Solutions Design and Build which appealed for an order said: “The enforcement officers managed to evict the squatters after 20 minutes. After we got them all out, we let them in one at a time to retrieve their stuff.
“They created a mess. The place was a tip. It was a disgrace. It looked like it was used as a drinking den. There are cans of alcohol strewn everywhere.
“I was told by a neighbouring resident that they were regularly holding raves and charging £5 to get in and about 300 people were attending. They changed all the locks and it’s taken from then to now for the High Court to hear our appeal and evict them.”
But the squatters maintain that they turned the space into a community centre advertising a timetable featuring the history of art and a choice of seven language classes including Italian, French, Portuguese, English, German and Arabic.
However, none of the squatters was available for comment this week.
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Russian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) activist Ira Putilova, 28, was one of the squatters evicted. She is allegedly an asylum seeker and says she will be threatened with persecution if she is returned to her home country. More than 7,000 people signed a petition supporting her with even Stephen Fry tweeting his fans to lend their support.
Safe Taylor, of Leabridge Road, Clapton, who is spokesman for the Ira Must Stay campaign, said: “Ira and the rest of the squatters are deciding what to do next.”
Following the eviction, developers plan to start work on the building to turn it into offices or an arts hub.
Rossana Tich, spokesman for preservation organisation The Hackney Society, said: “This building is a huge asset for the borough and it is acknowledged as being an ‘at risk’ heritage asset. It is incredible that it has suffered so many years of
neglect by various parties in the last decade.