African state urged to sell up as squatters move into ambassador’s Suburb home
A gang of squatters has moved into a �4million house owned by the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Suburb, sparking calls for the Congo to sell up and move out.
The house has fallen into rack and ruin since it was last used by the Congo ambassador in 2006 and now a gang of squatters has moved into the Suburb pile. The Holne Chase home has been occupied at least once before.
The Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust conservation watchdog has contacted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to try and force the Congo’s London embassy to clean up the building.
Only diplomatic immunity affords the house protection from the Trust’s strict conservation laws.
Trust manager Jane Blackburn has called for the Congolese to up sticks.
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“I feel deeply sympathetic to neighbouring residents. If the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are not able to put their house in order they ought to sell up,” she said.
“It’s in the Suburb and everyone else is expected to maintain their property to a high standard. It’s only because the property enjoys diplomatic immunity that the Trust has not taken action.
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“So our best recourse is through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to bring pressure and get the house in proper order.”
In March this year a group of serial squatters moved into the property, but were evicted by police after stealing electricity.
Suburb Cllr John Marshall, who was contacted by a concerned resident about the latest occupation, said: “The house is a disgrace, with the windows boarded up and it has been neglected for a while now.
“Why don’t they sell up and make some money for their impoverished country and get a small property somewhere else?”
The Democratic of Congo’s embassy in London was not available for comment as the Ham&High went to press.
Mike Freer MP for Finchley and Golders Green is campaigning for squatting to be changed from a civil to a criminal offence, allowing police to evict squatters.
The Suburb is no stranger to squatters, with Libyan nationals occupying a home linked to Colonel Gaddafi’s son, Saadi Gaddafi.
Complex ownership structures have stalled any attempt to evict the squatters from the mansion in Winnignton Close.