- Created on 09 March 2016
London housing activists have occupied a space in the middle of Knightsbridge and are running it as a social centre.
Earlier this week, housing activists occupied prime property on Brompton Road and are running a pop-up social centre in protest at the Housing Bill.
The community-led occupation aims to build support for the national Kill the Housing Bill demonstration on Sunday 13 March in Central London.
Radical Housing Network, a network of grassroots housing campaigns, plan to use the occupied property - known as “Our House” - to host a week-long programme of workshops, talks and performance in response to London’s housing crisis and its effect on communities.
The occupation involves a number of radical campaigns such as Focus E15 and Sisters Uncut, a feminist group taking direct action over cuts to domestic violence services. Campaigners said the occupied site ‘was a pop-up shop - now it’s a pop-up squat’.
The week-long programme of events includes actions against policy-makers, landlords and developers such as mock-evictions and doorstepping councillors; and practical sessions on banner making and civil disobedience. The ‘pop-up squat’ aims to be a space of refuge and resistance for all those affected by the housing crisis, by hosting activities such as a kids’ kitchen and holding discussions bringing together local campaigns.
The owners of the occupied property, Brompton Estates, are taking the occupiers to court on Friday. Brompton bought much of the neighbourhood as part of a £41 million deal.
"Our House" is in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC). RBKC ranks in the top four London boroughs in terms of inequality and housing costs.¹ Within the borough, the gap in life expectancy extends as much as eight years.² Almost 100% of the 6,000 council homes in the borough are set to be sold off under the provisions of the Housing Bill.
A Radical Housing Network spokesperson (one of the occupiers), said: “People have the impression that Kensington is all about millionaires revving their sports cars outside Harrods. Yet it is in fact a prime example of the ever growing, extreme inequalities in our society. Homeless people live on the streets near Kensington Palace where Kate and Wills have a flat.
“We’ve occupied this empty building in Kensington to protest the Tories’ Housing Bill which will make the housing crisis much worse.
“The Housing Bill aims to destroy council and social housing. And, crucially, it will hit affect everyone: It means higher rents, less security, and less chance of a home you can afford.
“It’s vital for communities to come together to organise against this pernicious legislation - that’s why we’ve opened a pop-up community centre. We’ve already been visited by lots of local people who have come in to check out what we’re up to and to offer their support”.