Camden squatters set up home in £12m housing association building in Barnet

Inside Church Walk House.

Inside Church Walk House. - Credit: Archant

A former care home which was bought for a pound and is being sold for £12million by a housing association is now being occupied by squatters who were evicted from Camden Council’s disused offices.

Inside Church Walk House.

Inside Church Walk House. - Credit: Archant

The community activists, known as the Camden Mothership, moved boroughs to their new home in Church Walk House in Childs Hill, Barnet, after being evicted from Camden’s former offices in West End Lane.

CCHT closed the care home in 2013, and sparked outrage among Childs Hill residents last year when they announced their intention to sell the building to private developers looking to turn it into luxury homes.

In 2010, CCHT acquired the building for a nominal sum of £1 from the Hendon Old People’s Housing Trust (HOPHT) on the proviso that they would run it as a care home for at least two years, and that any subsequent profit would be used to fund caring facilities.

Mothership’s leader, known as Phoenix, said: “Yet again, we have found a building which is lying empty awaiting development for houses that will only be affordable to the very rich.

Inside Church Walk House.

Inside Church Walk House. - Credit: Archant

“It is disgraceful that a housing association, which has charitable status, bought it for a pound and is selling it to a developer for £12million, and that they only ran it as a care home a couple of years.

“But we are not looking to hold up the development. All we want is a meanwhile lease to make good use of the space.”

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Phoenix said the group also wants to highlight the fact that there are 1.5million empty buildings in the UK, which he argues should be used to provide temporary shelter.

CCHT said proceeds from the sale of the building would be ploughed back into delivering supported housing and care facilities for vulnerable people across London, in line with the terms of purchase.

In 2013, a 100-strong group of residents successfully opposed CCHT’s plans to demolish Church Walk House and rebuild it as a larger four-storey home offering 53 one and two bedroom apartments.

Within days of the squatters taking up residence, CCHT applied for a court order to regain possession of the building.

A spokesman said: “We were deeply concerned to learn last week that a group of up to 30 squatters had illegally entered one of our properties. If the group had approached us before taking this step, we might have been better able to help them.

“If there are vulnerable members of the group, we would urge the squatters to help them to access appropriate housing advice.

“They are welcome to apply directly to CCHT for support. CCHT can help vulnerable people to connect with their local housing teams and where we have appropriate and eligible accommodation available, we may be able to provide housing solutions.”