There seems to be a problem in the Rotten Borough of Barnet – the vanguard rogue state of rapacious property development. This time last year I met the residents being turfed out of their homes on the West Hendon Estate as the Council gifted the land to Barratt Homes, Mrs Thatcher’s favourite builders. Then there were the murky goings on at Sweets Way that I still don’t fully understand but it seems that a large ex-military housing estate that had been leased to a housing association was then sold to a private developer for about 99p with a 1000-year lease.
The latest call I heard from the gallant Barnet Bohemians revolved around a Care Home in Church Walk, Child’s Hill bought by a charity for £1 to run as a care home and homeless women’s refuge but two years later sold on by the charity to a private developer for £12 million to demolish and replace with luxury flats.
What the hell is going on in Barnet – why does premium building land command no more than a solitary pound when sold by the local authority or charitable bodies but then miraculously increase by the millions once in private hands?
The positivity of the Bohemians and rainbow people recently crash landed from the Camden Mothership shines a beacon of hope through the gloom. They occupied the building seeking a Meanwhile Lease so they could provide shelter for the cold winter months and food for the hungry both in belly and spirit. They would also use the space for workshops, discussions, artworks. Utilise it as a base to explore an alternative to the rat race consumerism gnawing away at the soul of modern life.
Turns out the charity that still own the building aren’t as keen on actual charity as the sound of 12 million pound coins rattling in the till. They promptly took legal action, even seeking punitive custodial sentences to which the police thankfully gave short shrift. Even so, 3 days after I shot this video the occupants of Church Walk House were evicted by bailiffs.
All is not lost though – they have since landed once again in Barnet, in an abandoned nightclub on Whetstone High Road.