Clifton Mansions – home was where the house is

As far as the residents of Clifton Mansions, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, were concerned, Lambeth Council left 22 beautiful flats to rot. Squatters – families, friends –  moved in and took care of it, pretty well by all accounts. They formed a community of long standing and that deserved some respect.

By the time they were evicted onto a closed-off street this morning by many riot police, it was clear that Lambeth ‘zero-tolerance-on-squatting’ Council wasn’t intending to renovate Clifton Mansions for social housing. Worse, it opted to pay Camelot to prevent the building being reoccupied while a buyer is found at auction. There’s a general supposition they’ll soon be luxury flats, though the Estates Gazette wonders if an earlier idea of a creative industries cluster might happen. I guess the council would have been happy enough to announce that if it had still been on the cards.

Balthazar writes on his photo blog, “People were so upset. Evictions are terrible. Lives dumped on the pavement like rubbish.” OK, so the council suddenly woke up to an unexploited asset – certainly it should take control of it. But even if they couldn’t respect these homes and offer the Clifton Mansion residents their flats for a reasonable rent (and I’m not sure how these things work, how council housing places are allocated), why couldn’t they be added to Brixton’s drastically under-numbered social housing stock?

  • Carl Loben cross-posted on the Squash Campaign lists celebrity former squatters including Richard Branson (where are they when you need them?)
  • Shelter on the shortfall in affordable, secure housing, and what it means for some of the 1.8 million people on the waiting list in England alone.
  • Inside Housing, a very good site with a forum to ask landlord-related questions, interviews with people on social housing waiting lists, and a petition to free up land to build social housing
  • Defend Council Housing
  • The Independent on some of the Clifton Mansions residents.
  • Demotix, with photographs of the eviction
  • Urban75 on how the era ended not with a whimper but a shower of piss.
  • Squatted – a blogging project to counter the bad media publicity of squatters.

Thanks to my other half I have a spacious home, and there isn’t a night goes by when I get into my comfortable bed that it doesn’t occur to me how fortunate I am.

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One thought on “Clifton Mansions – home was where the house is

  1. How about this for a radical idea: instead of tailoring the number of dwellings to the number of people (which is essentially open-ended, and continuously increasing) let us tailor the number of people to the number of dwellings. In other words, we desperately need a population policy. No matter how many houses you build, it is never going to be enough. Let’s stop paying women to have babies – two is enough to provide a stable population. A diminishing population would be even better. Strongly discourage so-called second homes. Stop all but the most essential immigration. Build up instead of out. When I was born there were 49 million people in the UK. Even that was more than enough. By the way, the squirrels are at my hazel nuts again. But in addition, my apples, medlars, soft fruit and tomatoes.

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