Mare Street squatters face eviction

Squatters have been eviceted from 195 Mare Street. Picture: Rossana Tich

Squatters have been eviceted from 195 Mare Street. Picture: Rossana Tich - Credit: Archant

Squatters at one of Hackney’s most historic building could face eviction tomorrow (December 13) if a High Court ruling goes ahead.

Around 10 squatters have occupied the Grade II* listed Georgian mansion in Mare Street since August and have turned the space into a community centre and are advertising a packed timetable featuring history of art, photoshop and language classes.

Attendees can pick one of several languages including Italian, French, Portugese, English, German and Arabic. There are also meditation classes, film screenings and a People’s Kitchen available.

However, this week the squatters’ utopian dreams could be dashed if a High Court judge rules in the developer’s favour.

Construction company CS Solutions Design and Build (CSDB) appealed to the High Court for an eviction order, and an emergency hearing at was allegedly held last Thursday.

Rossana Tich, spokesperson for preservation organisation The Hackney Society expressed concenrs about the welfare of the building, saying: “The welfare of the building is one of our main concerns. It’s Hackney’s second most historical residential building and it’s had a very chequered past in the last ten years.

“Whilst occupation of a building is preferable to it being open to the elements our concern is that this could be preventing repair work going ahead.”

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CSDB inspected the property along with Hackney Council to assess the condition of the property last month.

Cllr Feryal Demirci, cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Council officers visited 195 Mare Street with colleagues from English Heritage to assess the current condition of the property.

“We have serious concerns about the structure and maintenance of the property, and we are seeking a meeting with its new owners to find out what their plans are to secure and preserve this historically important grade II* listed building.”

The family home was built in 1699 and was converted into the Elizabeth Fry Institute for Reformation of Women Prisoners in 1860 and was used to train female inmates in a variety of skills.

It merged with the Manor House Refuge for the Destitute in Dalston and became a hostel for girls on probation for minor offences in 1924.

It later became a working men’s club and was known as the New Lansdowne Club but became vacant in 2000. The building’s owners went into liquidation in 2011.

CSDB were unavailable for comment.