Last year we turned a smashed empty building into a beautiful family home. This is how we did it.
One year ago, several dozen of us did something remarkable. In the midst of London’s still-ongoing housing crisis, and as Barnet Council and Annington Properties Ltd continued to push for the social cleansing of the Sweets Way estate, we came together to undermine the core argument behind the destruction of our – and so many others’ – homes across London: that the only viable option for the estate was demolition and developer-led regeneration.
Following each family eviction, contractors were unleashed on our former homes, smashing porcelain, wastewater pipes and removing everything short of the doors they used to keep us out. In building after building, we found a pattern of deliberate damage that could only be explained as a way to make these otherwise liveable homes unliveable, in the midst of a housing crisis! The consistency between the buildings made clear that this was not the work of a rogue contractor, but a deliberate strategy to justify the demolition of the estate and to prevent its reoccupation.
But rather than dwell on the sociopathic tendencies of Sweets Way’s legal owners, we decided to prove that there was – and is – an alternative to handing homes to private developers for so-called ‘regeneration.’ In just one week, with found and donated materials, a few hundred pounds and countless hours of voluntary labour, we turned a smashed up shell of a building into a beautiful family home, overflowing with character and the strength of community that made it possible.
Now, one year on, we wanted to share how we did what we did. In July 2016, London is none-the-better-off then it was then. Estates are still being given away to private property developers intent only on making profit from the places we call home. Families are still being pushed out of London and forced to choose between rent, food, bills, furniture and other essentials.
The need for us – all of us – to continue to stand together and take back the homes we need has never been greater. The People’s Regeneration Show Home was one way we tried to do this, and we hope the lessons it offered can be put to use by others working to bring their communities together to shine a light on the regeneration lie and to demonstrate the power of people to create the housing solutions we need.
The PDF below offers a detailed guide to the steps we took to create the show home. Download it, share it, put it to use where you are and feel free to drop us a line [sweetswayresists[AT]gmail.com] if there is anything we can do to help you make it happen!
Sweets Way Resists
Here are some of the things the media had to say about the show home:
- ‘At the Sweets Way show home, activists are standing up to developers using hammers and paintbrushes,’ Barbara Speed, New Statesman
- ‘This London Rebel DIY Regeneration Shows How to Solve the Housing Crisis,’ Ben Beach, Vice
- ‘Sweets Way Resists: a community reclaims ‘regeneration’,’ Sophie Hemery, openDemocracy
- ‘Campaigners Create ‘Show Home’ To Demonstrate Regeneration Alternative,’ Beth Parnell-Hopkinson, Londonist
- ‘Sweets Way shows London what regeneration should look like,’ Ellie Mae O’Hagan, The Guardian