For Immediate Release
Baroness supports Heathrow 3rd runway squatters facing eviction
In a court case that could set a precedent for land use in the UK, ‘Grow Heathrow’, a squatted community garden project in the Heathrow Villages, West London, has received support from Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Lib-Dem), a member of the House of Lords. The owners of the site are seeking possession of the land which would remove the community project in the process despite the ovewhelming support the squatters have received.
As the case enters its final day today which includes John McDonnell MP appearing as a witness at Central London County Court in support of the group, Baroness Miller said:
“Grow Heathrow is about a living, sustainable, community based future. We should be enabling projects like this not closing them down. Growing food, cooking it and eating together is the glue that has held societies together – we need a lot more of it, not less.”
After two previous adjournments at the most recent hearing for possession of the land, in November 2011, a district judge sitting at Uxbridge County Court accepted that the court needed to have regard to the defendant’s right to respect for the home under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and adjourned the claim to be heard by a more senior (circuit) judge sitting at Central London County Court.
‘Grow Heathrow’ first took over the former-market garden site on Vineries Close, Sipson, in March 2010 after years of neglect which caused social problems in the area. Local residents and the Transition Heathrow group cleared up the land, removing 30 tonnes of rubbish, and set up the site as a community-hub and market garden. The project came out of protests against Heathrow’s planned 3rd runway and the site sits directly in the path of where the 3rd runway would have been built.
After months of attempted negotiations with the landowner who was previously using the site as a dumping ground and to scrap cars, Transition Heathrow along with the local residents association and the local MP have set up the framework to buy the land through a Community Land Trust which would give ownership of the site to the local community.
John Mcdonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, who is appearing in court as a witness today said:
“Grow Heathrow have taken a derelict site that has caused local residents numerous problems and transformed it into a beautiful area, serving the whole community. I urge the owners to drop this case and let Grow Heathrow remain or failing this I appeal to the court to allow them to stay.”
A statement of support from local residents’ group Harmondsworth and Sipson Residents Association (HASRA) said:
“The people involved with this project (Grow Heathrow) have transformed the site.
In the process they have created a much-needed community hub for local people who have spent years living under threat of destruction due to proposals for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Their tireless efforts and support have regenerated enthusiasm for community working that inspires the many people who visit.”
Grow Heathrow gardener Joe Rake said:
“After more than two years at Grow Heathrow we have turned the site into a thriving community garden. We want to continue our work with schools, youth clubs and the residents’ association, and really don’t want to see the land return to causing social problems in the area. With John McDonnell MP we are trying to buy the land for a Community Land Trust- we didn’t clear 30 tonnes of rubbish for nothing!”
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Notes to editors
Recent BBC London News coverage on the court case already: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-18460865, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-18458210
- Pictures from outside court to be credited to Jonathan Goldberg.
- More info on Article 8 on the European Convention on Human Rights can be found here:http://www.hri.org/docs/ECHR50.html#C.Art8
- Grow Heathrow recently appeared at the High Court as part of a case challenging the Metropolitan Police’s use of pre-emptive policing before the Royal Wedding last year. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/may/27/activists-arrested-challenge-police-high-court
- Grow Heathrow is run by Transition Heathrow, a Transition Town as part of the Transition Network.www.transitionheathrow.com, www.transitionheathrow.com/grow-heathrow
- Statements of support for the project can be found here: http://www.transitionheathrow.com/statements/
- Follow @transheathrow & #DefendGrowHrow on twitter for updates from court
- More information on Community Land Trusts can be found here: http://www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk/what-are-clts
- All photos can be used from our Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/47991844@N06
- A photo campaign launched as part of the campaign to resist eviction can be found here:http://www.flickr.com/photos/47991844@N06/sets/72157628011759448/